Herbs for Arthritis, Colds and Crohn’s DiseaseFebruary 8, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Old herbs may not be able to learn new tricks, but humans can certainly learn new tricks about old herbs. Over the past few months, there’s been an impressive string of studies published about various herbal remedies. Some of the data supports traditional uses of these botanical agents. But I’ve also discovered a few wild cards in the medical literature. The result of my research will be a three day expose on the latest and greatest information about the modern use of medicinal herbs.
In September I wrote a piece about Andographis paniculata (AP) and its potential in combating viral infections such as the common cold and flu. A study that will appear in the March issue of the journal Phytomedicine strengthens the case for this exotic remedy. 223 men and women with “uncomplicated upper respiratory infections” participated in a trial that examined the effects of 200 mg per day of AP (KalmCold) or a placebo. The scientists conducting the 5 day study utilized a Visual Analog Scale to quantify the symptom scores among the volunteers.
- Both the KalmCold and placebo groups reported feeling progressively better by day 3 of the illness.
- Those receiving the placebo noted no change or a worsening of symptoms from days 3-5.
- The KalmCold volunteers experienced a “decreasing trend” of symptoms during that same period.
- The symptoms monitored included cough, earache, expectoration, fatigue, fever, headache, nasal discharge and sleep disturbance.
Only a few minor side effects were documented with no significant differences found between KalmCold and the placebo. The authors of the trial concluded that the Andographis paniculata extract was 2.1 times more effective than the placebo in “reducing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection”. (1)
Crohn’s disease is a serious inflammatory condition that affects the digestive tract. Conventional treatment typically involves the use of powerful medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and immune system suppressants. These very same drugs sometimes bring about equally potent adverse reactions. But new evidence suggests that a natural alternative may be growing in a field or garden near you. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) was recently shown to suppress the levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), a cytokine/protein which has been linked to intestinal damage. 10 patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) were recently given 750 mg of wormwood three times a day for 6 weeks. An additional 10 CD patients were randomly selected to serve as a comparison group. Both sets of patients continued to receive standard care during the trial. TNF-a levels were measured at the start, middle and end of the study. Other measures relating to quality of life (Hamilton’s Depression Scale) and symptoms severity (Crohn’s Disease Activity Index) were also recorded.
- A dramatic drop in TNF-a, from 24.5 pg/ml to 8.0 pg/ml, was detected in the wormwood treated patients by the 6 week mark.
- A significant decline in symptoms was noted based on the results of a Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI).
- The participants began the study with a CDAI score of 275 and ended at 175. Eight of the ten wormwood patients were categorized as having a “remission of symptoms”.
- An interesting side note is that the herbal intervention also improved mood scores according to changes in the volunteers’ Hamilton’s Depression Scale.
The 10 person non-wormwood, control group was much less likely to benefit from conventional treatment alone. By comparison, they only saw a 4.6 pg/ml decline in TNF-a, a 52 point drop on their CDAI scores and 2 cases of remission. (2)
Most people outside of Africa primarily think of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) as the source of a rich “butter” that can work wonders for dry and irritated skin. However, new research from “Down Under” may considerably broaden the appeal of the humble shea seed. Scientists from Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia recently enrolled 89 patients with osteoarthritis in a study that investigated the efficacy of a “triterpene-rich extract” of shea seed vs. a placebo. The results of the 15 week trial revealed that the shea seed extract reduced inflammation (TNF-a levels) by 23.9% and collagen breakdown (CTX-II) by 28.7%. Osteocalcin levels also dropped by 9.2% which indicates a bone-sparing effect. The combination of these three factors suggest that shea seed extract has “multiple beneficial activities consistent with slowing the disease process” in patients with osteoarthritis. (3)
In day two of this three-part series, I’ll be reviewing the most current data available regarding Astragalus membranaceus, Hibiscus sabdariffa and Rhodiola rosea. The topics at hand will include the natural management of hypertension, seasonal allergies and smoking cessation. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for that information and a whole lot more.
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!
Tags: Arthritis, Cold, Digestion
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements