Get updated via twitter (NatMedResearch) and facebook (Natural Medicine Research)

18 July 2014

Vitamin C may reduce exercise-induced bronchoconstriction

This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determined whether vitamin C administration influences exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). All three placebo-controlled trials identified, with a total of 40 participants, showed a reduction in postexercise FEV1 decline when vitamin C was administered before exercise. The author concluded "Given the safety and low cost of vitamin C, and the positive findings for vitamin C administration in the three EIB studies, it seems reasonable for physically active people to test vitamin C when they have respiratory symptoms such as cough associated with exercise. Further research on the effects of vitamin C on EIB is warranted".

Hemilä H. Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2013 Jun 20;3(6). pii: e002416.

17 July 2014

Auricular acupressure reduces pain after total knee arthroplasty

This study investigated whether auricular acupressure (AA) can alleviate postoperative pain and decrease narcotic consumption and its adverse effects in 90 osteoarthritis patients after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The AA group received true AA by embedding vaccaria seeds at four specific AA points (knee joint, shenmen, subcortex, sympathesis) ipsilateral to the surgery site, while the control group received four nonacupuncture points on the auricular helix. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores were similar at 12, 24, 36, and 48 hours postsurgery, but AA group scores were lower than those of the control group at 3, 4, 5, and 7 days. Patients in the AA group consumed lower doses of analgesic than those in the control group after surgery. The incidence of analgesia-related adverse effects in the AA group was lower than that in the control group. Although Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) scores were similar in the two groups preoperatively and at 3 months postoperatively, HSS scores 2 weeks postoperatively were higher in the AA group than in the control group, but there was no difference between groups in range of motion. The authors conclude "Applying auricular acupoint acupressure in the perioperative period of TKA is favorable for alleviating postoperative pain, decreasing opioid consumption and its adverse effects, and promoting early rehabilitation. Also, this intervention has the advantage of lower costs, fewer complications, simple application, and high safety".

He BJ, Tong PJ, Li J, Jing HT, Yao XM. Auricular acupressure for analgesia in perioperative period of total knee arthroplasty. Pain Med. 2013 Oct;14(10):1608-13.

14 July 2014

Population wide weight loss lowers rates of diabetes and heart disease

This study evaluated the associations between population-wide loss and gain in weight with diabetes prevalence, incidence, and mortality, as well as cardiovascular and cancer mortality trends, in Cuba over a 30 year interval. The results showed that rapid declines in diabetes and heart disease accompanied an average population-wide loss of 5.5 kg in weight, driven by an economic crisis in the mid-1990s. A rebound in population weight followed in 1995 (33.5% prevalence of overweight and obesity) and exceeded pre-crisis levels by 2010 (52.9% prevalence). The population-wide increase in weight was immediately followed by a 116% increase in diabetes prevalence and 140% increase in diabetes incidence. Six years into the weight rebound phase, diabetes mortality increased by 49% (from 9.3 deaths per 10 000 people in 2002 to 13.9 deaths per 10 000 people in 2010). A deceleration in the rate of decline in mortality from coronary heart disease was also observed. The authors conclude "In relation to the Cuban experience in 1980-2010, there is an association at the population level between weight reduction and death from diabetes and cardiovascular disease; the opposite effect on the diabetes and cardiovascular burden was seen on population-wide weight gain".

Franco M, Bilal U, Orduñez P, Benet M, Morejón A, Caballero B, Kennelly JF, Cooper RS. Population-wide weight loss and regain in relation to diabetes burden and cardiovascular mortality in Cuba 1980-2010: repeated cross sectional surveys and ecological comparison of secular trends. BMJ. 2013 Apr 9;346:f1515.

02 July 2014

Breastfeeding and brain development

In this study researchers used quiet magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to compare measures of white matter microstructure in 133 healthy children from 10 months through 4 years of age, who were either exclusively breastfed a minimum of 3 months; exclusively formula-fed; or received a mixture of breast milk and formula. The relationship between breastfeeding duration and white matter microstructure was also examined. Breastfed children exhibited increased white matter development in later maturing frontal and association brain regions. Positive relationships between white matter microstructure and breastfeeding duration are also exhibited in several brain regions, that are anatomically consistent with observed improvements in cognitive and behavioral performance measures. The authors conclude "our findings provide new insight into the earliest developmental advantages associated with breastfeeding, and support the hypothesis that breast milk constituents promote healthy neural growth and white matter development".

Deoni SC, Dean DC 3rd, Piryatinsky I, O'Muircheartaigh J, Waskiewicz N, Lehman K, Han M, Dirks H. Breastfeeding and early white matter development: A cross-sectional study. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:77-86.

30 June 2014

Pumpkin seed oil improves hair growth in men with male pattern baldness

This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was designed to investigate the efficacy and tolerability of Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) for treatment of hair growth in male patients with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia (AGA). 76 male patients with AGA received 400 mg of PSO per day or a placebo for 24 weeks. After 24 weeks of treatment, self-rated improvement score and self-rated satisfaction scores in the PSO-treated group were higher than in the placebo group. The PSO-treated group had more hair after treatment than at baseline, compared to the placebo group. Mean hair count increases of 40% were observed in PSO-treated men at 24 weeks, whereas increases of 10% were observed in placebo-treated men. The authors conclude "this study shows that PSO supplement during 24 weeks has a positive anabolic effect on hair growth and that this is due to the possible effects of 5-reductase inhibition in patients with mild to moderate male pattern hair loss".

Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, Choi EJ, Kim YJ, Lee JG, Yi YH, Cha HS. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:549721.

01 June 2014

Higher tomato intake linked to prostate cancer prevention

In a meta-analysis researchers aimed to determine whether intake of lycopene and tomato/tomato products could reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Eleven cohort studies and six nested case-control studies were identified through searching of international journal databases and reference lists of relevant publications. Two reviewers independently assessed the study quality and extracted data from each identified study; only studies with sufficient quality were included in the review. The results showed that higher intakes of raw and cooked tomato, lycopene intake and a higher lycopene serum level reduced prostate cancer risk by 19%, 15%, 7% and 3%, respectively, compared to lower intakes and level. The authors conclude "Further research would be needed to determine the type and quantity of tomato products regarding their potential in preventing prostate cancer".

Chen J, Song Y, Zhang L. Lycopene/tomato consumption and the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2013;59(3):213-23.

31 May 2014

Curcuminoids improves quality of life and reduces inflammation in cancer patients

This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial aimed to evaluate the efficacy of curcuminoids as adjuvant therapy in cancer patients. Eighty subjects with solid tumors who were under standard chemotherapy regimens were randomly assigned to a bioavailability-boosted curcuminoids preparation (180 mg/day; n = 40) or matched placebo (n = 40) for a period of 8 weeks. Efficacy measures were changes in the health-related quality of life (QoL) score (evaluated using the University of Washington index) and serum levels of a panel of mediators implicated in systemic inflammation including interleukins 6 (IL-6) and 8 (IL-8), TNF-α, transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1). Curcuminoid supplementation was associated with a significantly greater improvement in QoL compared with placebo. Consistently, the magnitude of reductions in TNF-α, TGFβ, IL-6, substance P, hs-CRP, CGRP and MCP-1 were all significantly greater in the curcuminoids versus placebo group. In contrast, the extent of reduction in serum IL-8 was significantly greater with placebo versus curcuminoids. The authors conclude "Adjuvant therapy with a bioavailable curcuminoid preparation can significantly improve QoL and suppress systemic inflammation in patients with solid tumors who are under treatment with standard chemotherapy protocols".

Panahi Y, Saadat A, Beiraghdar F, Sahebkar A. Adjuvant Therapy with Bioavailability-Boosted Curcuminoids Suppresses Systemic Inflammation and Improves Quality of Life in Patients with Solid Tumors: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Mar 19 [Epub ahead of print]

30 May 2014

Acupuncture may reduce pain in primary dysmenorrhea

This study assessed the immediate effect of acupuncture at a specific acupoint compared with an unrelated acupoint and nonacupoint on 501 patients with primary dysmenorrhea from six large hospitals in China. They received three sessions with electro-acupuncture at a classic acupoint (Sanyinjiao, SP6), or an unrelated acupoint (Xuanzhong, GB39), or nonacupoint location. The results showed that the classic acupoint was more effective than both the unrelated acupoint and nonacupoint in reducing subjective pain. The authors conclude "Specific acupoint acupuncture produced a statistically, but not clinically, significant effect compared with unrelated acupoint and nonacupoint acupuncture in primary dysmenorrhea patients. Future studies should focus on effects of multiple points acupuncture on primary dysmenorrhea".

Liu CZ, Xie JP, Wang LP, et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Single Point Acupuncture in Primary Dysmenorrhea. Pain Med. 2014 Mar 17 [Epub ahead of print]

29 May 2014

Antioxidant supplement improves muscle contractile performance

In this recent Australian study researchers have found antioxidant supplementation prior to a single bout of resistance training can improve muscle contractile performance. The antioxidant supplement, Lactaway, contains pycnogenol and was consumed four hours prior to resistance training.

Ackerman J, Clifford T, McNaughton LR, Bentley DJ. The effect of an acute antioxidant supplementation compared with placebo on performance and hormonal response during a high volume resistance training session. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Mar 21;11(1):10.

23 May 2014

Yoga may help reduce postpartum depressive symptoms

The effects of prenatal Hatha yoga on cortisol, affect and depressive symptoms were investigated in 51 women. Twice during pregnancy, yoga group participants reported on affect and provided a saliva sample before and after a 90-min prenatal Hatha yoga session. Corresponding measures were obtained from yoga and control group participants on days of usual activity. Depressive symptoms were assessed in pregnancy and post partum. Cortisol was lower and positive affect higher on yoga compared to usual activity days. Negative affect and contentment improved more in response to the yoga session. Yoga group participants showed fewer postpartum but not antepartum depressive symptoms than control group participants. The authors conclude "Findings indicate that prenatal Hatha yoga may improve current mood and may be effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms".

Bershadsky S, Trumpfheller L, Kimble HB, Pipaloff D, Yim IS. The effect of prenatal Hatha yoga on affect, cortisol and depressive symptoms. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 May;20(2):106-13.

22 May 2014

Probiotic lozenge reduces gingivitis

This randomised, controlled, double-blind trial investigated the effects of orally administered Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 (BB-12) on the number of salivary mutans streptococci (MS), amount of plaque, gingival inflammation and the oral microbiota in healthy young adults. Healthy volunteers used lozenges containing a combination of LGG and BB-12 (test group, n = 29) or lozenges without added probiotics (control group, n = 31) for 4 weeks. The probiotic lozenge decreased both plaque index and gingival index while no changes were observed in the control group. However, no probiotic-induced changes were found in the microbial compositions of saliva in either group. The authors conclude "The probiotic lozenge improved the periodontal status without affecting the oral microbiota" and further comment "Short-term consumption of LGG and BB-12 decreased the amount of plaque which was associated with a clinical impact: a decrease in gingival inflammation".

Toiviainen A, Jalasvuori H, Lahti E, Gursoy U, Salminen S, Fontana M, Flannagan S, Eckert G, Kokaras A, Paster B, Söderling E. Impact of orally administered lozenges with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 on the number of salivary mutans streptococci, amount of plaque, gingival inflammation and the oral microbiome in healthy adults. Clin Oral Investig. 2014 Mar 18. [Epub ahead of print]

21 May 2014

Eating more fruit and vegetables promotes emotional well-being

Researchers have discovered that eating approximately 7-8 servings of fruit or vegetables daily promotes feelings of well-being among healthy young adults. A total of 281 young adults with a mean age of 19.9 years completed an Internet-based daily diary for 21 consecutive days. Each day they reported their negative and positive affect, and their consumption of five specific foods. Analyses of same-day within-person associations revealed that on days when young adults experienced greater positive affect, they reported eating more servings of fruit and vegetables. Results of lagged analysis showed that fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive affect the next day, suggesting that healthy foods were driving affective experiences and not vice versa. Meaningful changes in positive affect were observed with the daily consumption of approximately 7-8 servings of fruit or vegetables. The authors conclude "Eating fruit and vegetables may promote emotional well-being among healthy young adults".

White BA, Horwath CC, Conner TS. Many apples a day keep the blues away--daily experiences of negative and positive affect and food consumption in young adults. Br J Health Psychol. 2013 Nov;18(4):782-98.

19 May 2014

Television viewing reduces sleep time in children

Television and insufficient sleep are associated with poor mental and physical health. This study assessed associations of TV viewing and bedroom TV with sleep duration from infancy to midchildhood. Parents of 1864 children reported average daily TV viewing and sleep (at 6 months and annually from 1-7 years) and the presence of a bedroom TV (annually 4-7 years). The results showed each 1 hour per day increase in lifetime TV viewing was associated with 7 minutes per day shorter sleep. The association of bedroom TV varied by race/ethnicity; bedroom TV was associated with 31 minutes per day shorter sleep among racial/ethnic minority children, whereas among white, non-Hispanic children it was 8 fewer minutes per day. The authors conclude "our study supports a negative influence of TV viewing and bedroom TV on children's sleep".

Cespedes EM, Gillman MW, Kleinman K, Rifas-Shiman SL, Redline S, Taveras EM. Television Viewing, Bedroom Television, and Sleep Duration From Infancy to Mid-Childhood. Pediatrics. 2014 Apr 14. [Epub ahead of print]

17 May 2014

Yoga gives benefits beyond just stretching for breast cancer patients

In this study researchers investigated the benefits of yoga for breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Patients with stages 0 to III breast cancer were recruited before starting radiotherapy and were randomly assigned to yoga (n = 53) or stretching (n = 56) three times a week for 6 weeks during radiotherapy or waitlist (n = 54) control. The yoga group had significantly greater increases in physical component scale scores compared with the waitlist group at 1 and 3 months after radiotherapy. At 1, 3, and 6 months, the yoga group had greater increases in physical functioning compared with both stretching and waitlist groups, with stretching and waitlist differences at only 3 months. The group differences were similar for general health reports. By the end of radiotherapy, the yoga and stretching groups also had a reduction in fatigue. There were no group differences for mental health and sleep quality. Cortisol slope was steepest for the yoga group compared with the stretching and waitlist groups at the end and 1 month after radiotherapy. The authors conclude "Yoga improved quality of life and physiological changes associated with radiotherapy beyond the benefits of simple stretching exercises, and these benefits appear to have long-term durability".

Chandwani KD, Perkins G, Nagendra HR, et al. Randomized, controlled trial of yoga in women with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2014 Apr 1;32(10):1058-65.

15 May 2014

Folic acid supplementation helps prevent spontaneous preterm birth

In a recent Chinese study researchers have found that supplementation of 400 μg folic acid daily around the time of conception is associated with a reduced risk of spontaneous preterm birth. Data was derived from a large population-based cohort study comprising of 207,936 singleton live births delivered at gestational ages of 20-42 weeks to women from two provinces in southern China. The results showed that the incidence of preterm birth was significantly lower among folic acid users (5.28%) than among non-users (6.10%). Folic acid use showed a 14% risk reduction for preterm birth overall. This association was strongest for spontaneous preterm birth and was not significant for iatrogenic preterm birth or preterm premature rupture of membranes.

Li Z, Ye R, Zhang L, Li H, Liu J, Ren A. Periconceptional folic acid supplementation and the risk of preterm births in China: a large prospective cohort study. Int J Epidemiol. 2014 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print]

13 May 2014

Pantethine lowers cholesterol levels

The efficacy of pantethine (a form of vitamin B5) on cardiovascular risk markers was investigated in a randomized, triple-blinded, placebo-controlled study, in a low to moderate cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk North American population eligible for statin therapy, using the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines. A total of 32 participants were randomized to pantethine (600 mg/day from weeks 1 to 8 and 900 mg/day from weeks 9 to 16) or placebo. Compared with placebo, the participants on pantethine showed a significant decrease in total cholesterol at 16 weeks and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) at 8 and 16 weeks, and decreasing trends in non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol at week 8 and week 12 that reached significance by week 16. An 11% decrease in LDL-C from baseline was seen in participants on pantethine, at weeks 4, 8, 12, and 16, while participants on placebo showed a 3% increase at week 16. After 16 weeks, the participants on placebo did not show significant improvement in any CVD risk end points. The authors conclude "This study confirms that pantethine lowers cardiovascular risk markers in low to moderate CVD risk participants".

Evans M, Rumberger JA, Azumano I, Napolitano JJ, Citrolo D, Kamiya T. Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, favorably alters total, LDL and non-HDL cholesterol in low to moderate cardiovascular risk subjects eligible for statin therapy: a triple-blinded placebo and diet-controlled investigation. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2014 Feb 27;10:89-100.

12 May 2014

Vitamin D improves survival of patients with breast cancer

In a meta-analysis of 5 studies researchers have found that higher serum levels of vitamin D is associated with lower rates of mortality from breast cancer. In fact, patients with the highest levels of vitamin D had approximately half the death rate from breast cancer as those with the lowest. The authors conclude that vitamin D levels "in all patients with breast cancer should be restored to the normal range (30-80 ng/ml), with appropriate monitoring".

Mohr SB, Gorham ED, Kim J, Hofflich H, Garland CF. Meta-analysis of vitamin D sufficiency for improving survival of patients with breast cancer. Anticancer Res. 2014 Mar;34(3):1163-6.

06 May 2014

Probiotic helps obese women lose weight

In this study researchers investigated the impact of a Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 (LPR) supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women over 24 weeks. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial, each subject consumed two capsules per day` of either a placebo or a LPR formulation (1·6 × 108 colony-forming units of LPR/capsule with oligofructose and inulin). Each group was submitted to moderate energy restriction for the first 12 weeks followed by 12 weeks of weight maintenance. Body weight and composition were measured at baseline, at week 12 and at week 24. The results showed that the mean weight loss in women in the LPR group was significantly higher than that in women in the placebo group after the first 12 weeks, whereas it was similar in men in the two groups. Women in the LPR group continued to lose body weight and fat mass during the weight-maintenance period, whereas opposite changes were observed in the placebo group. Changes in body weight and fat mass during the weight-maintenance period were similar in men in both the groups. LPR-induced weight loss in women was associated not only with significant reductions in fat mass and circulating leptin concentrations but also with the relative abundance of bacteria of the Lachnospiraceae family in faeces. The authors conclude "The present study shows that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 formulation helps obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss".

Sanchez M, Darimont C, Drapeau V, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2014 Apr;111(8):1507-19.

03 May 2014

Foods with the highest pesticide residues

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just published its annual list of foods with the highest amounts of pesticide residues, known as the dirty dozen. These foods include apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. The produce with the least amount of pesticide residues, known as the clean fifteen, include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Next time you're shopping for fruit and veg consider buying organic for the dirty dozen.


02 May 2014

Green tea improves brain function

This study investigated whether the intake of Green tea extract modulates effective brain connectivity during working memory processing and whether connectivity parameters are related to task performance. Using a double-blind, counterbalanced, within-subject design, 12 healthy volunteers received a milk whey-based soft drink containing 27.5 g of Green tea extract or a milk whey-based soft drink without Green tea as control substance while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Working memory effect on effective connectivity between frontal and parietal brain regions was evaluated using dynamic causal modelling. The results showed that Green tea extract increased the working memory induced modulation of connectivity from the right superior parietal lobule to the middle frontal gyrus. Notably, the magnitude of Green tea induced increase in parieto-frontal connectivity positively correlated with improvement in task performance. The authors conclude "our findings provide first evidence for the putative beneficial effect of Green tea on cognitive functioning, in particular, on working memory processing at the neural system level by suggesting changes in short-term plasticity of parieto-frontal brain connections. Modeling effective connectivity among frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing might help to assess the efficacy of Green tea for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia".

Schmidt A, Hammann F, Wölnerhanssen B, Meyer-Gerspach AC, Drewe J, Beglinger C, Borgwardt S. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]