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

13 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!


  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.

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

  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!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 12/19/15:

    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!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 05/10/16:

    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:

    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:

    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

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 10/28/16:

    Int J Womens Health. 2016 Oct 11;8:581-587.

    Effects of a new combination of nutraceuticals on postmenopausal symptoms and metabolic profile: a crossover, randomized, double-blind trial.

    OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to measure the beneficial effects of a combination of nutraceutics (NUT; AkP04, Morestril®, Akademy Pharma) containing soy isoflavones (80 mg), dry extract of Angelica sinensis (50 mg), dry extract of Morus alba leaf (200 mg) and magnesium (56.25 mg) in the relief of somatic, psychological, and urogenital symptoms in postmenopausal patients, using the validated Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) and cardiovascular risk factors.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 43 symptomatic postmenopausal women (MRS ≥20) were enrolled in a crossover trial. After a 2-week run-in period, patients were randomized into two arms. One arm received probiotics plus placebo over 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week treatment with probiotics plus NUT. The second arm received probiotics plus NUT for 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week treatment with probiotics plus placebo.

    RESULTS: After the NUT period, participants showed a significant reduction in MRS score (18.4±5.4) in comparison to baseline (28.4±5) and the placebo period (28±5.2) (P<0.0001 for both comparisons). Furthermore, at the end of the active-treatment period, we observed a significant reduction in triglycerides, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol plasma levels and an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol plasma concentration versus baseline and versus placebo (all P<0.04). Moreover, during the NUT period, we detected a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure in comparison to baseline, but not in comparison to the placebo period.

    CONCLUSION: This NUT combination was effective for the relief of menopause symptoms in postmenopausal patients and improved their cardiovascular risk profile.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Updated 02/13/17:

    Nutrients 2017, 9(2), 129

    Adding Agnus Castus and Magnolia to Soy Isoflavones Relieves Sleep Disturbances Besides Postmenopausal Vasomotor Symptoms-Long Term Safety and Effectiveness

    Abstract: The effectiveness for vasomotor symptoms and sleep disorders plus the long-term safety of a nutraceutical combination of agnus-castus and magnolia extracts combined with soy isoflavones (SI) and lactobacilli were assessed in postmenopausal women. A controlled study was carried out in menopausal women comparing this nutraceutical combination (ESP group) with a formulation containing isoflavones alone (C group) at the dosage recommended. The Kuppermann index, The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Short Form 36 (SF-36) were determined at baseline, three, six and 12 months. Endometrial thickness, mammary density and liver function were evaluated at baseline and after 12 months. One hundred and eighty women were enrolled in the study (100 in the ESP group and 80 in the C group). At the end of the treatment, mammary density, endometrial thickness, and hepatic function did not show substantial differences between groups. The Kuppermann index and particularly the tendency for hot flashes progressively and significantly decreased in frequency and severity during ESP versus C treatment. At the same time, a significant increase in sleep quality and psychophysical wellness parameters was observed in the ESP versus C groups. No adverse events were observed. Agnus-castus and magnolia, combined with SI + lactobacilli, can effectively and safely be used in symptomatic postmenopausal women, mainly when quality of sleep is the most disturbing complaint. The endometrium, mammary glands and liver function were unaffected after 12 months of treatment.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 01/02/19:

    J Family Med Prim Care. 2018 Sep-Oct;7(5):893-897.

    The impact of calendula ointment on cesarean wound healing: A randomized controlled clinical trial.

    Background: Cesarean is one of the most common surgical interventions. Wound complications are one of the most common morbidities following cesarean section. Calendula promotes wound healing and might be effective in shortening the duration of wound healing. Limited researches have been done regarding the healing of this plant as the effect of this ointment on cesarean wound healing has not been studied. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of calendula on cesarean wound healing in primiparous females.

    Methods: This clinical trial involves 72 qualified primiparous females with surgical childbirth admitted in the Akbar-Abadi Educational Hospital. They were randomly categorized into two groups of experimental (n = 1) and control (n = 2) groups. The females in experimental group used calendula ointment every 12 h and the control group used hospital routine for 10 days. Wound healing was assessed on the 3rd, 6th, 9th days postcesarean using the REEDA scale (REEDA stands for redness, edema, ecchymosis, discharge, and approximation), which had criteria including redness, edema, ecchymosis, discharge, and approximation. The data were collected by demographic questionnaire and redness, edema were used Chi-square test and independent T-test for data analysis.

    Results: Seventy-two females were included in the study. Thirty-six cases in the drug group and 36 cases in control group were studied. The age of patients in the two groups did not differ significantly (27/17 ± 4/72, 28/97 ± 4/99 years, respectively; P = 0/276). Moreover, there was no significant difference between studied groups regarding the education level of patients and their husbands, the mother’s job and the economic situation.

    Conclusion: According to the results, using calendula ointment considerably increases the speed of cesarean wound healing so it can be used for quickening the cesarean healing.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 01/06/19:

    J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Jan 4:1-6.

    Efficacy of chewing gum for improving bowel function after cesarean sections: a randomized controlled trial.

    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of chewing xylitol-free gum at different intervals after cesarean sections.

    STUDY DESIGN: One hundred fifty patients undergoing cesarean sections were randomized into a gum chewing group (n = 75) and a control group (n = 75). Patients in the gum group chewed one sugarless gum for 30 min at 3, 5, and 7 h postoperatively. The two groups were compared in terms of time to first bowel movement, first feeling of hunger, first passage of flatus, and defecation time. Postoperative satisfaction with bowel movements was rated on a scale of 1-5.

    RESULTS: First bowel movement time (4.93 ± 1.05 versus 7.97 ± 2.33 h postoperatively, p = .0001), first feeling of hunger (5.51 ± 1.68 versus 6.30 ± 1.58 h postoperatively, p = .004), first passage of flatus (11.73 ± 4.61 versus 14.10 ± 2.71 h postoperatively, p = .001), and mean length of hospital stay (2.30 ± 0.49 versus 2.50 ± 0.50 d, p = .015) were significantly reduced in the gum group compared with the control group. Postoperative satisfaction scores for overall bowel function were better in the patients who chewed gum.

    CONCLUSION: Gum chewing at frequent intervals in the early postoperative period promotes the early return of bowel movements, shortens hospitalization, and increases patient satisfaction regarding bowel function.

    Be well!


  13. JP Says:

    Updated 01/14/19:

    Front Psychol. 2018 Dec 17;9:2495.

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Induce Neuroplasticity and Significant Clinical Improvement in Patients Suffering From Fibromyalgia With a History of Childhood Sexual Abuse-Randomized Controlled Trial.

    Background: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a condition considered to represent a prototype of central sensitization syndrome, can be induced by different triggers including childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Recent studies have demonstrated hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can induce neuroplasticity and improve clinical outcome of FMS. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the effect of HBOT on patients suffering from FMS with a history of CSA.

    Materials and methods: A prospective randomized clinical trial conducted between July 2015 and November 2017 included women with a history of CSA who fulfilled fibromyalgia diagnosis criteria for at least 5 years prior to inclusion. Included participants (N = 30) were randomly assigned to treatment group, treated with 60 HBOT sessions and a control/crossover group received psychotherapy. After the control period, the control/crossover group was crossed to HBOT. Clinical outcomes were assessed using FMS questioners, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) questioners and quality of life questioners. Objective outcome were assessed using brain function and structure imaging.

    Findings: Following HBOT, there was a significant improvement in all FMS questionnaires (widespread pain index, Fibromyalgia symptoms severity scale, Fibromyalgia functional impairment), most domains of quality of life, PTSD symptoms and psychological distress. The same significant improvements were demonstrated in the control following crossover to HBOT. Following HBOT, brain SPECT imaging demonstrated significant increase in brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, and subgenual area (p < 0.05). Brain microstructure improvement was seen by MRI-DTI in the anterior thalamic radiation (p = 0.0001), left Insula (p = 0.001), and the right Thalamus (p = 0.001). Conclusion: HBOT induced significant clinical improvement that correlates with improved brain functionality and brain microstructure in CSA related FMS patients. Be well! JP

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