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Natural Medicine in Iran

November 21, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Most of my columns are inspired by material that’s pieced together from numerous medical journals. Today, the exact opposite is true. The majority of studies referenced below can be found in recent editions of the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. What’s more, almost all of the original studies I link to can be reviewed in their entirety for free. This may be invaluable to patients and physicians who are interested in the finer details and nuances of a medical trial.

Not surprisingly, women’s health issues are the emphasis of many of the publications. On the topic of PMS, a daily use of 250 mg of magnesium and 40 mg of Vitamin B6 reduced PMS symptoms to a greater extent than magnesium alone or a placebo. Another study reports that patients with dysmenorrhea or menstrual pain responded better to foot massage (reflexology) than the common pain reliever ibuprofen. Other research points to the benefits of heat therapy and reflexology as effective and safe methods of decreasing labor pain in first time mothers. Herbal remedies also made appearances in two current Iranian studies. The first determined that a cream containing garlic and thyme addressed vaginitis comparably to the conventional anti-fungal drug clotrimazole. A second trial evaluated the impact of passion flower and St. John’s wort extracts in managing menopausal symptoms. The conclusion states that both natural medicines were successful enough to warrant use “as an alternative treatment for individuals who cannot, whatsoever, use hormone therapy”.

The remaining four studies I uncovered included both female and male participants and revealed that: a) receiving a 15 minute Swedish massage thrice-weekly significantly lowers diastolic and systolic blood pressure in prehypertensives; b) applying reflexology to patients about to undergo surgery lowers blood pressure caused by anxiety; c) lavender oil aromatherapy promotes better sleep quality in patients recovering from heart surgery; d) an extract of bitter orange blossom (Citrus aurantium) may likewise have a role as a preoperative anxiety relieving product. Finding all of these hidden gems in such an unexpected place reminds us of the value of exploring the globe when looking for the best possible healthcare solutions.

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 – Evaluating the Effect of Magnesium and Magnesium Plus (link)

Study 2 – Comparing the Effects of Reflexology Methods and Ibuprofen (link)

Study 3 – Reviewing the Effect of Reflexology on the Pain and Certain(link)

Study 4 – Effect of Heat Therapy on Pain Severity in Primigravida Women (link)

Study 5 – Investigating the Therapeutic Effect of Vaginal Cream Containing (link)

Study 6 – A Comparative Study on the Effects of Hypericum Perforatum (link)

Study 7 – The Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure of Women (link)

Study 8 – The Effect of Reflexotherapy on Patients’ Vital Signs Before (link)

Study 9 – Effect of Aromatherapy on the Quality of Sleep in Ischemic Heart (link)

Study 10 – Citrus Aurantium Blossom and Preoperative Anxiety (link)

Magnesium + Vitamin B6 May Lessen PMS Severity

Source: Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010 December; 15(Suppl1): 401–405. (link)

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Posted in Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health

8 Comments & Updates to “Natural Medicine in Iran”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 12/07/15:


    Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(17):7517-22.

    Effects of Fresh Yellow Onion Consumption on CEA, CA125 and Hepatic Enzymes in Breast Cancer Patients: A Double- Blind Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.

    Onion (Allium cepa) consumption has been remarked in folk medicine which has not been noted to be administered so far as an adjunct to conventional doxorubicin-based chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. To our knowledge, this is the first study aimed to investigate the effects of consuming fresh yellow onions on hepatic enzymes and cancer specific antigens compared with a low-onion containing diet among breast cancer (BC) participants treated with doxorubicin. This parallel design randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on 56 BC patients whose malignancy was confirmed with histopathological examination. Subjects were assigned in a stratified-random allocation into either group received body mass index dependent 100-160 g/d of onion as high onion group (HO; n=28) or 30-40 g/d small onion in low onion group (LO; n=28) for eight weeks intervention. Participants, care givers and laboratory assessor were blinded to the assignments (IRCT registry no: IRCT2012103111335N1). The compliance of participants in the analysis was appropriate (87.9%). Comparing changes throughout pre- and post-dose treatments indicated significant controls on carcinoembryonic antigen, cancer antigen-125 and alkaline phosphatase levels in the HO group (P<0.05). Our findings for the first time showed that regular onion administration could be effective for hepatic enzyme conveying adjuvant chemotherapy relevant toxicity and reducing the tumor markers in BC during doxorubicin-based chemotherapy.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 12/07/15:


    Hepat Mon. 2015 Oct 10;15(10):e31434.

    Effect of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Training on Liver Enzymes and Hepatic Fat in Iranian Men With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

    BACKGROUND: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has different prevalence rates in various parts of the world and is a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease that could progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

    OBJECTIVES: The current study aimed to investigate the effect of Aerobic Training (AT) and resistance training (RT) on hepatic fat content and liver enzyme levels in Iranian men.

    PATIENTS AND METHODS: In a randomized clinical trial study, 30 men with clinically defined NAFLD were allocated into three groups (aerobic, resistance and control). An aerobic group program consisted of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at 60% – 75% maximum heart rate intensity, a resistance group performed seven resistance exercises at intensity of 50% – 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM ) and the control group had no exercise training program during the study. Before and after training, anthropometry, insulin sensitivity, liver enzymes and hepatic fat were elevated.

    RESULTS: After training, hepatic fat content was markedly reduced, to a similar extent, in both the aerobic and resistance exercise training groups (P ≤ 0.05). In the two exercise training groups, alanine amino transferase and aspartate amino transferase serum levels were significantly decreased compared to the control group (P = 0.002) and (P = 0.02), respectively. Moreover, body fat (%), fat mass (kg), homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance (HOMI-IR) were all improved in the AT and RT. These changes in the AT group were independent of weight loss.

    CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that RT and AT are equally effective in reducing hepatic fat content and liver enzyme levels among patients with NAFLD. However, aerobic exercise specifically improves NAFLD independent of any change in body weight.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 12/10/15:


    Complement Ther Med. 2015 Dec;23(6):767-72.

    Herbal medicine Davaie Loban in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: A 12-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

    OBJECTIVE: In traditional texts on herbal medicines, various medicinal plants have been noted to have beneficial effects on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the traditional books Herbal medicine Davaie Loban (DL) has beneficial effects in Alzheimer’s disease. The study aim was to determine the clinical efficacy of DL in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

    DESIGN: Double blind randomized clinical trial.

    SETTING: Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences.

    INTERVENTIONS: This included patients older than 50 years with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease according to ADAS-cog (Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale; ADAS≥12) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SOB; CDR≤2). Twenty-four patients completed the study in DL group and 20 in placebo group.

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: ADAS-cog and CDR-SOB were filled out for patients to define the improvement in memory over the study period.

    RESULTS: At 4 weeks and 12 weeks there was significant difference in mean (SEM) ADAS-cog scores between DL and placebo groups and it was lower in DL group (p<0.001). At baseline, no significant difference was seen regarding mean (SEM) scores of CDR-SOB between DL and placebo groups (p=0.096). However, at 4 and 12 weeks there was significant difference in mean (SE) CDR-SOB scores between DL and placebo groups and it was lower in DL group (p<0.001).

    CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that DL may be effective in improvement of memory in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 1/7/16:


    Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015 Nov 1;17(11):e20111.

    Comparing the Effects of Reflexology and Footbath on Sleep Quality in the Elderly: A Controlled Clinical Trial.

    BACKGROUND: Sleep disorders are common mental disorders reported among the elderly in all countries, and with nonpharmacological interventions, they could be helped to improve their sleep quality.

    OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of two interventions, foot reflexology and foot bath, on sleep quality in elderly people.

    PATIENTS AND METHODS: This three-group randomized clinical trial (two experimental groups and a control group) was conducted on 69 elderly men. The two experimental groups had reflexology (n = 23) and foot bath (n = 23) interventions for 6 weeks. The reflexology intervention was done in the mornings, once a week for ten minutes on each foot. The participants in the foot bath group were asked to soak their feet in 41°C to 42°C water one hour before sleeping. The pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) was completed before and after the intervention through an interview process.

    RESULTS: The results showed that the PSQI scores after intervention compared to before it in the reflexology and foot bath groups were statistically significant (P = 0.01 , P = 0.001); however, in the control group did not show a statistically significant difference (P = 0.14). In addition, the total score changes among the three groups were statistically significant (P = 0.01). Comparing the score changes of quality of sleep between the reflexology and foot bath groups showed that there was no significant difference in none of the components and the total score (P = 0.09). The two interventions had the same impact on the quality of sleep.

    CONCLUSIONS: It is suggested that the training of nonpharmacological methods to improve sleep quality such as reflexology and foot bath be included in the elderly health programs. In addition, it is recommended that the impact of these interventions on subjective sleep quality using polysomnographic recordings be explored in future research.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 11/03/16:


    Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 Sep-Oct;21(5):475-481.

    A survey of the therapeutic effects of Vitamin E suppositories on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women.

    BACKGROUND: Menopause is associated with various complications such as depression, sleep disorders, and genitourinary atrophy. Vaginal atrophy occurs due to the loss of steroid hormones, and its major symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, dyspareunia, and bleeding after intercourse. According to the literature, vitamin E plays a key role in estrogen stability. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of vitamin E suppositories and conjugated estrogen vaginal cream on vaginal atrophy.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this clinical trial, 52 postmenopausal women, who were referred to a gynecology clinic in 2013, were recruited and randomly divided into two groups (26 cases per group). One group received 100 IU of vitamin E suppositories (n = 26), whereas the other group applied 0.5 g of conjugated estrogen cream for 12 weeks. Vaginal maturation value (VMV) was compared between the two groups before and after the intervention. VMV ≤ 55 was regarded as a cut-off point for vaginal atrophy. Treatment success was defined as a 10-unit increase in VMV, compared to the baseline value. Data were analyzed by Friedman test and Mann-Whitney test. P value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

    RESULTS: The mean VMV in the vitamin E group before the treatment and after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of treatment was 43.78 ± 13.75, 69.07 ± 22.75, 77.86 ± 21.79, and 80.59 ± 19.23, respectively. The corresponding values in the estrogen cream group were 42.86 ± 14.40, 86.98 ± 12.58, 92.65 ± 15, and 91.57 ± 14.10, respectively. VMV significantly improved in both the treatment groups after the intervention, compared to the preintervention period (P < 0.001). Treatment success was reported in both groups, although estrogen cream (100%) appeared to be more effective after 4 weeks of treatment, compared to vitamin E suppositories (76.9%) (P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Based on the findings, use of vitamin E suppositories could improve the laboratory criteria for vaginal atrophy and treatment success. Therefore, vitamin E suppositories are suggested for relieving the symptoms of vaginal atrophy, especially in women who are unable to use hormone therapy or cope with the associated side effects. Be well! JP

  6. JP Says:

    Updated 02/19/17:


    Iran J Psychiatry. 2016 Jul;11(3):191-197.

    Effects of Passion Flower Extract, as an Add-On Treatment to Sertraline, on Reaction Time in Patients ‎with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study.

    Objective: Because of functional impairment caused by generalized anxiety disorder and due to cognitive side ‎effects of many anti-anxiety agents, in this study we aimed to evaluate the influence of Passion ‎flower standardized extract on reaction time in patients with generalized anxiety disorder.‎ Method: Thirty patients aged 18 to 50 years of age, who were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and ‎fulfilled the study criteria, entered this double-blind placebo-controlled study. Reaction time was ‎measured at baseline and after one month of treatment using computerized software. Correct ‎responses, omission and substitution errors and the mean time of correct responses (reaction time) in ‎both visual and auditory tests were collected. The analysis was performed between the two groups ‎and within each group utilizing SPSS PASW- statics, Version 18. P-value less than 0.05 was ‎considered statistically significant.‎ Results: All the participants were initiated on Sertraline 50 mg/day, and the dosage was increased to 100 ‎mg / day after two weeks. Fourteen patients received Pasipy (Passion Flower) 15 drops three times ‎daily and 16 received placebo concurrently. Inter-group comparison proved no significant difference ‎in any of the test items between assortments while a significant decline was observed in auditory ‎omission errors in passion flower group after on month of treatment using intra-group analysis.‎‎ Conclusion: This study noted that passion flower might be suitable as an add-on in the treatment of generalized ‎anxiety disorder with low side effects. Further studies with longer duration are recommended to ‎confirm the results of this study.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 03/03/17:


    J Res Med Sci. 2016 Nov 7;21:108.

    A randomized controlled trial on the effects of jujube fruit on the concentrations of some toxic trace elements in human milk.

    BACKGROUND: This study aims to investigate the concentrations of lead, cadmium, and arsenic in the human milk, and to assess the effect of jujube fruit consumption by lactating mothers in reducing the concentration of these heavy metals in their milk.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This randomized controlled trial was conducted in 2014 among forty postpartum mothers in Isfahan, the second largest and polluted city in Iran. Mothers were randomized into two groups; the intervention group received 15 g/day of fresh jujube fruit, and the controls received routine care for 8 weeks.

    RESULTS: In the beginning, the concentrations of lead, cadmium, and arsenic were high, without significant difference between groups. The mean (standard deviation) concentrations of lead, cadmium, and arsenic were 29.49 (16.6), 4.65 (3.51), and 1.23 (0.63) μg/L, respectively. The smoothed empirical distribution of environmental pollutants showed that in both groups the mean values and variance of toxic metals decreased after 8 weeks, with a sharper decline in the intervention group. Quantile regression analysis showed that in the intervention group, lead concentration decreased by 2.54 μg/L at the 90th quintile, and cadmium decreased by 0.19 μg/Lat 75th quintile; without significant change in arsenic level. The corresponding figures were not significant in the control group.

    CONCLUSION: The concentrations of heavy metals were high in human milk, and the consumption of jujube fruit had some beneficial effects in reducing these harmful elements. Pregnant and lactating mothers should be advised to reduce their exposure to environmental pollutants, and consumption of some natural medicinal foods can be useful in reducing the concentration of pollutants in human milk. Because of numerous benefits of breast milk, in spite of the existence of some toxic trace elements, breastfeeding must be encouraged because such contaminants are also found in water and formula. The impact of the current findings on the primary prevention of chronic disease should be determined in future longitudinal studies.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 06/03/18:


    BMC Womens Health. 2018 May 31;18(1):80.

    The effect of 8 weeks aerobic exercise on severity of physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome: a clinical trial study.

    BACKGROUND: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common disorder among women of reproductive age. Nearly 40% of women report problems with their menstrual cycles. Exercise is one of the recommended treatments to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The present study was conducted to determine the effect of 8 weeks aerobic exercise on severity of physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

    METHODS: This study was a randomized clinical trial (IRCT2015021721116N1) that was performed on 65 students living in student dormitories of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in 2016, Iran. Samples were randomly assigned to control and intervention groups. The intervention group engaged in 8 weeks of aerobic exercises, three times a week, and 20 min for each session. The tools were research unit selection questionnaire, midwifery and personal particulars, temporary determination of premenstrual syndrome, Beck Depression, recorded daily symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and Borg scale. We analyzed the data using SPSS software and Mann-Whitney U test and Friedman test.

    RESULTS: At the beginning of the study, both control and intervention groups were homogeneous. The results of independent t-test showed that among the physical symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome in the intervention group compared to the control group, at the end of the study, headache (p = 0.001), nausea, constipation diarrhea (p = 0.01), swollen (p = 0/001) had a significant reduction. Also, the comparison of the difference between the mean of the signs at the beginning and the end of the study, bloating (p = 0.01), Vomiting (p = 0.002), hot flashes (p = 0.04), increase in appetite (p = 0.008) were significantly decreased.

    CONCLUSION: Aerobic exercise as one of the ways to treat premenstrual syndrome can reduce the physical symptoms of the syndrome.

    Be well!


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