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28 February 2011

Acupuncture reduces pain associated with Raynaud's phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms that block blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. Twenty-six patients with Raynaud's phenomenon received 6 cycles of auricular electroacupuncture. The findings showed a significant reduction of attack frequency after 3 and 6 weeks of auricular electroacupuncture. Furthermore, attack associated pain was reduced after 3, 6 and 24 weeks of treatment.

Schlager O, E Gschwandtner M, Mlekusch I, Herberg K, Frohner T, Schillinger M, Koppensteiner R, Mlekusch W. Auricular electroacupuncture reduces frequency and severity of Raynaud attacks. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

27 February 2011

Depressed elderly benefit from fish oil

Sixty-six elderly aged 65 years and over participated in a study to investigate the effect of 1g of fish oil daily for 6 months on mild to moderate depression. Fish oil supplementation was found to be more effective in treating depression in comparison with the placebo.

Tajalizadekhoob Y, Sharifi F, Fakhrzadeh H, Mirarefin M, Ghaderpanahi M, Badamchizade Z, Azimipour S. The effect of low-dose omega 3 fatty acids on the treatment of mild to moderate depression in the elderly: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

26 February 2011

Lavender oil found to be antifungal

Lavender essential oil (Lavandula viridis) has been found to have antifungal activity. The authors suggest that Lavender oil may be useful in the clinical treatment of fungal diseases, particularly dermatophytosis and candidosis, although clinical trials are required to evaluate the practical relevance of this in vitro research.

Zuzarte M, Gonçalves MJ, Cavaleiro C, Canhoto J, Vale-Silva L, Silva MJ, Pinto E, Salgueiro L. Chemical composition and antifungal activity of the essential oils of Lavandula viridis L'Her. J Med Microbiol. 2011 Feb 14. [Epub ahead of print]

25 February 2011

Zinc reduces common cold duration and severity

In a review of trials using zinc for the common cold, researchers analysed 13 therapeutic trials (966 participants) and two preventive trials (394 participants). They found that zinc administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduced the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people. When supplemented for at least five months, it reduced cold incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics in children.

Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;2:CD001364.

24 February 2011

Low vitamin D status common in elderly

Low blood vitamin D levels tend to be more prevalent at higher latitudes. However, vitamin D levels may also be found to be low in people who live in a country abundant in sunlight. This study looked at the vitamin D status of elderly women in Thailand, which is situated near the equator. In a population of 446 healthy women aged 60-97 years, 32% were found to have vitamin D insufficiency (≤ 60 nmol/L). The elderly may be at risk of inadequate vitamin D because of limited outdoor activity, lower dietary intake, and reduced capacity of the skin to produce vitamin D. 

Chailurkit LO, Kruavit A, Rajatanavin R. Vitamin D status and bone health in healthy Thai elderly women. Nutrition. 2011;27(2):160-4.

23 February 2011

Eating berries may lower risk of Parkinson's disease

The American Academy of Neurology has released new research revealing that men and women who regulary eat berries may have a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, while men may also further lower their risk by regularly eating apples, oranges and other sources rich in dietary components called flavonoids. The study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women who were followed for 20-22 years. During that time, 805 people developed Parkinson's disease. In men, the top 20% who consumed the most flavonoids with about 40% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than the botton 20% of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. When sub-classes of flavonoids were examined, regular consumption of anthocyanins, which are mainly obtained from berries, were found to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease in both men and women. "This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease," said study author Xiang Gao, "Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease."

22 February 2011

Exercise improves maths performance in children

A group of 171 sedentary, overweight 7-11 year old children were randomised to 13 weeks of an exercise program (20 or 40 min/day), or control. Exercise was found to improve executive function and mathematics achievement. Executive function is the capacity to regulate one's behaviour and is crucial for adaptive behaviour and development. The researchers conclude that "Besides its importance for maintaining weight and reducing health risks during a childhood obesity epidemic, physical activity may prove to be a simple, important method of enhancing aspects of children's mental functioning that are central to cognitive development".

Davis CL, Tomporowski PD, McDowell JE, Austin BP, Miller PH, Yanasak NE, Allison JD, Naglieri JA. Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children: A randomized, controlled trial. Health Psychol. 2011 Jan;30(1):91-8.

21 February 2011

Mushroom extract improves immune function in athletes

Prolonged and exhausting exercise can lower immunity and increase the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). In a double blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers investigated the effect of pleuran, an insoluble β-glucan from the mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus, on selected cellular immune responses and incidence of URTI symptoms in athletes. Fifty athletes were randomised to pleuran or placebo group, taking pleuran (commercial name Imunoglukan) or placebo supplements during 3 months. The study found that pleuran significantly reduced the incidence of URTI symptoms and increased the number of circulating natural killer cells. In addition, the phagocytosis process remained stable in pleuran group during the study in contrast to placebo group where significant reduction of phagocytosis was observed. The authors comment that "These findings indicate that pleuran may serve as an effective nutritional supplement for athletes under heavy physical training".

Bergendiova K, Tibenska E, Majtan J. Pleuran (β-glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) supplementation, cellular immune response and respiratory tract infections in athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

20 February 2011

Lack of sleep increases risk of colorectal adenoma

Researchers investigated whether sleep duration had an effect on the risk of colorectal adenomas. Their results found that individuals averaging less than 6 hours per night had an almost 50% increase in risk of colorectal adenomas as compared with individuals sleeping at least 7 hours per night.

Thompson CL, Larkin EK, Patel S, Berger NA, Redline S, Li L. Short duration of sleep increases risk of colorectal adenoma. Cancer. 2011;117(4):841-7.

19 February 2011

Insecticide use linked to delayed mental development in young children

Exposure to piperonyl butoxide, a chemical that is added to insecticides to increase efficacy, during pregnancy has been found to negatively effect neurodevelopment in children by the age of 3. Researchers collected air samples from mothers via a small backpack holding a personal ambient air monitor for 48 hours during the third trimester of pregnancy. Of the 230 samples evaluated, 75% detected piperonyl butoxide. 

Horton MK, Rundle A, Camann DE, Barr DB, Rauh VA, Whyatt RM. Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Piperonyl Butoxide and Permethrin on 36-Month Neurodevelopment. Pediatrics. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

18 February 2011

Vitamin D may lower risk of multiple sclerosis

In an Australian study, researchers found that higher blood vitamin D levels were associated with a lower risk of first demyelinating events which are the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Lucas RM, Ponsonby AL, Dear K, Valery PC, Pender MP, Taylor BV, Kilpatrick TJ, Dwyer T, Coulthard A, Chapman C, van der Mei I, Williams D, McMichael AJ. Sun exposure and vitamin D are independent risk factors for CNS demyelination. Neurology. 2011;76(6):540-8.

17 February 2011

Processed food diet may lead to a lower IQ in children

A study of just under 4000 children has found that a diet high in fat, sugar and processed food in early childhood was associated with a reduction in IQ in later childhood, while a healthy diet with high intakes of nutrient rich foods (salad, rice, pasta, fish and fruit) was associated with an increase in IQ.

Northstone K, Joinson C, Emmett P, Ness A, Paus T. Are dietary patterns in childhood associated with IQ at 8 years of age? A population-based cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

16 February 2011

Exercising outdoors is beneficial for mental wellbeing

A group of researchers in the UK conducted a systematic review comparing the effect of outdoor and indoor exercise on mental wellbeing. They found that compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy. However, the results suggested that feelings of calmness may be decreased following outdoor exercise. Participants reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date.

Thompson Coon J, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J, Depledge MH. Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

15 February 2011

Vitamin B12 deficiency may contribute to unexplained chronic cough

In a study involving 42 patients with chronic, unexplained cough, results indicate that vitamin B12 deficiency may be a contributing factor. After 2 months of intramuscular injections of vitamin B12, symptoms were significantly improved in vitamin B12 deficient patients. The authors suggest that vitamin B12 deficiency "should be considered among factors that sustain chronic cough, particularly when cough triggers cannot be identified".

Bucca CB, Culla B, Guida G, Sciascia S, Bellone G, Moretto A, Heffler E, Bugiani M, Rolla G, Brussino L. Unexplained chronic cough and vitamin B-12 deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(3):542-48

14 February 2011

Vitamin D deficiency associated with painful joints

In a study of postmenopausal women, blood vitamin D levels were commonly low with 53% having deficient (<50 nmol/L) and only 17% having sufficient (>72 nmol/L) levels. Joint pain (reported by 74%) and joint swelling (reported by 34%) were also commonly reported. Lower blood vitamin D concentrations were found to be associated with a higher average joint pain score.

Chlebowski RT, Johnson KC, Lane D, Pettinger M, Kooperberg CL, Wactawski-Wende J, Rohan T, O'Sullivan MJ, Yasmeen S, Hiatt RA, Shikany JM, Vitolins M, Khandekar J, Hubbell FA. 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration, vitamin D intake and joint symptoms in postmenopausal women. Maturitas. 2011;68(1):73-8.

13 February 2011

Chromium improves insulin sensitivity and body composition in overweight children

The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased globally more than 2-fold during the last three decades. Children are becoming overweight at younger ages than in the past, increasing their risk of insulin resistance and its metabolic complications, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and sudden death throughout life. In this study, twenty-five overweight children aged 9-12 years were randomised to receive either 400 mcg of chromium chloride or placebo during a 6-week lifestyle modification regimen that included nutritional education and 3×90 min of aerobic physical activity weekly. The results found that chromium supplementation helped to improve insulin sensitivity and body composition in overweight children.

Kim CW, Kim BT, Park KH, Kim KM, Lee DJ, Yang SW, Joo NS. Effects of short-term chromium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and body composition in overweight children: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

12 February 2011

Vitamin D supplementation may reduce stooped posture Parkinson disease patients

In a prospective study involving 92 patients with Parkinson's disease, results indicate that vitamin D may help reduce stooped posture. During the 5-year study period, stooped posture developed in 34 patients; the rest of the 58 patients did not show stooped posture. Blood levels and dietary intake of vitamin D in the stooped group was found to be significantly lower than in the nonstooped group. During the study period, 19 (22%) patients in the nonstooped group developed new vertebral fracture, compared with 23 (100%) patients in the stooped group. Bone mineral density was also found to be lower in the stooped group. The authors suggest that "vitamin D supplementation may reduce stooped posture in patients with Parkinson disease".

Sato Y, Iwamoto J, Honda Y. Vitamin D Deficiency-Induced Vertebral Fractures May Cause Stooped Posture in Parkinson Disease. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

11 February 2011

Omega-3 supplementation reduces depression in elderly

In a two-month, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 46 depressed women, aged 66-95 years received either 2.5 g omega-3 fatty acids (1.67 g of EPA and 0.83 g of DHA) or placebo daily. The supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids was found to reduce the occurrence of depressive symptoms and improve health-related quality of life.

Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, Pelucchi C, La Vecchia C, Montorfano G, Negroni M, Berra B, Politi P, Rizzo AM. Long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated Fatty acids supplementation in the treatment of elderly depression: effects on depressive symptoms, on phospholipids Fatty acids profile and on health-related quality of life. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011;15(11):37-44.

10 February 2011

Vitamin E supplementation reduces risk of chronic lung disease

In a study involving 38,597 women enrolled in the Women's Health Study, participants were supplemented with vitamin E (600 IU every other day) and aspirin (100 mg every other day). After 10 years results indicated that vitamin E supplementation may be associated with a reduced risk of chronic lung disease. The authors conclude, "In this large randomised trial, assignment to 600 IU vitamin E led to a 10% reduction in the risk of chronic lung disease in women."

Agler AH, Kurth T, Gaziano JM, Buring JE, Cassano PA. Randomised vitamin E supplementation and risk of chronic lung disease in the Women's Health Study. Thorax. [Epub ahead of print]

09 February 2011

Acupressure alleviates menstrual pain

A total of 30 young college female students with primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) were randomly allocated to either acupressure or control groups. Acupressure was found to be an effective treatment for alleviating primary dysmenorrhea.

Mirbagher-Ajorpaz N, Adib-Hajbaghery M, Mosaebi F. The effects of acupressure on primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17(1):33-6.

08 February 2011

Aroma massage helps relieve constipation in advanced cancer patients

Lai TK, Cheung MC, Lo CK, Ng KL, Fung YH, Tong M, Yau CC. Effectiveness of aroma massage on advanced cancer patients with constipation: a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17(1):37-43.
In advanced cancer patients, constipation is commonly experienced as a result of medication, dietary and mobility factors and disease related factors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of aromatherapy massage on constipation in advanced cancer patients. Aromatherapy abdominal massage sessions were offered daily for 5 consecutive days and massage session took between 15-20 min. The results found significant improvement in constipation in the aromatherapy massage group compared to the control group. Apart from the improvement in bowel movements, the results showed significantly improved quality of life. The authors conclude that "the findings of this study suggest aroma massage can help to relieve constipation in patients with advanced cancer".

07 February 2011

Yoga improves health and quality of life

Employees at a medical center volunteered to participate in a yoga-based wellness program for 6 weeks. Participants met six days per week and sessions lasted for at least one hour. Each session consisted of power yoga interwoven with philosophical concepts and instruction about the benefits of mindfulness, breath, and meditation. Certain classes each week incorporated large and small group sharing, journal writing, and mindful eating exercises. Results showed that participants had lost weight, lowered body fat percentage, decreased diastolic blood pressure, improved flexibility and enhanced overall quality of life.

Thomley BS, Ray SH, Cha SS, Bauer BA. Effects of a brief, comprehensive, yoga-based program on quality of life and biometric measures in an employee population: a pilot study. Explore (NY). 2011;7(1):27-9.

06 February 2011

Exercise improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Exercise has been found to improve symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Patients in the physical activity group were instructed by a physiotherapist to increase their physical activity, whereas those in the control group were instructed to maintain their lifestyle. Not only was there improvement in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome but physically active patients also experienced less symptom deterioration compared with physically inactive patients.

Johannesson E, Simrén M, Strid H, Bajor A, Sadik R. Physical Activity Improves Symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

05 February 2011

Type of fat consumed alters depression risk

In this study of 12,059 Spanish university graduates a higher intake of trans fatty acids were found to increase the risk of depression, whereas higher intakes of olive oil were found to reduce risk.

Sanchez-Villegas A, Verberne L, De Irala J, Ruiz-Canela M, Toledo E, et al. Dietary fat intake and the risk of depression: The SUN project. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(1):1-7

04 February 2011

Eating more fruits and vegetables lowers risk of ischaemic heart disease

Participants in this study included 313,074 men and women from eight European countries. Participants consuming at least eight portions (80 g each) of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of fatal ischaemic heart disease compared with those consuming fewer than three portions a day.

Crowe FL, Roddam AW, Key TJ, Appleby PN, Overvad K, Jakobsen MU, Tjønneland A, Hansen L, Boeing H, Weikert C, Linseisen J, Kaaks R, Trichopoulou A, Misirli G, Lagiou P, Sacerdote C, Pala V, Palli D, Tumino R, Panico S, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Boer J, van Gils CH, Beulens JW, Barricarte A, Rodríguez L, Larrañaga N, Sánchez MJ, Tormo MJ, Buckland G, Lund E, Hedblad B, Melander O, Jansson JH, Wennberg P, Wareham NJ, Slimani N, Romieu I, Jenab M, Danesh J, Gallo V, Norat T, Riboli E; European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heart Study Collaborators. Fruit and vegetable intake and mortality from ischaemic heart disease: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heart study. Eur Heart J. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

03 February 2011

Naturopathy and yoga benefits patients with hypertension

A total of 104 patients, already diagnosed with mild to moderate hypertension (high blood pressure) and taking antihypertensive medicines were included in this study. Participants were given naturopathy treatments, yoga therapies, low calorie and low sodium diet for 21 days. With naturopathy and yoga, systolic blood pressure came down from an average of 139.6 to 129.6 and diastolic blood pressure reduced from 91.2 to 86.1. At the same time improvements were seen in patient's lipid profile and body weight. At the end of one year out of 57 patients who came for follow-up, 14 cases were found to have blood pressure within normal ranges without any medication over the previous 12 months. The authors concluded that "naturopathy and yoga therapy can be considered as a valuable nonpharmacological approach in treatment of hypertension".

Murthy SN, Rao NS, Nandkumar B, Kadam A. Role of naturopathy and yoga treatment in the management of hypertension. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17(1):9-12.

02 February 2011

Acupuncture reduces chronic stress

After weekly traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) for 5 weeks participants with high self-reported stress levels reported significant improvements in their stress levels. The authors conclude that "TCA treating stress at this stage when it is perceived by the individual as high, but before the onset of serious ill health could prevent the progression to disease and lead to large savings in the loss of working days and health costs that occur at a later stage of stress-related illness".

Huang W, Howie J, Taylor A, Robinson N. An investigation into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) for chronic stress in adults: a randomised controlled pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011;17(1):16-21.

01 February 2011

Eating pistachio nuts may benefit men with erectile dysfunction

In a study involving 17 men with erectile dysfunction (ED), results indicate that daily consumption of pistachio nuts may exert beneficial effects. The subjects received 100 g of pistachio nuts daily for 3 weeks. At the end of the study, significant increase in International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores, improvement in penile color Doppler ultrasound (PCDU) parameters, significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, increase in systolic velocity values, and increase in HDL cholesterol were found. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "We demonstrated that a pistachio diet improved IIEF scores and PCDU parameters without any associated side effects in patients with ED. Furthermore, the lipid parameters showed statistically significant improvements after this diet."

Aldemir M, Okulu E, Neşelioğlu S, Erel O, Kayıgil O. Pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2011 [Epub ahead of print]