Monthly Archives: August 2008

Chew Gum to Reduce Stress

chewing gumsImage via Wikipedia

Chewing gum was found to help relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress among individuals, according to a new study.

The study, led by Andrew Scholey, professor of Behavioural and Brain Sciences, Swinburne University, Australia, was done on the Defined Intensity Stressor Simulation (DISS), a multi-tasking platform which reliably induces stress and also includes performance measures, while chewing and not chewing gum.

While chewing gum, participants reported lower levels of anxiety. They showed a reduction in anxiety as compared to non-gum chewers by nearly 17% during mild stress and nearly 10% in moderate stress.

Participants experienced greater levels of alertness when they chewed gum. The improvement in alertness over non-gum chewers was nearly 19% during mild stress and eight per cent in moderate stress.

Stress levels were also lower. Levels of salivary cortisol (a physiological stress marker) in gum chewers were lower than those of non-gum chewers by 16% during mild stress and nearly 12% in moderate stress.

Chewing gum resulted in a significant improvement in overall performance on multi-tasking activities. Both gum-chewers and non-chewers showed improvement from their baseline scores.

However, chewing gum improved mean performance scores over non-gum chewers by 67% during moderate stress and 109% in mild stress.

You may click to see:->Chewing Gum May Help After Surgery

Sources: The Times Of India

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Bromelain

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples. Called a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain is believed to help with the digestion of protein.

Some bromelain appears to be absorbed by the body intact, so it’s also thought to have effects outside the digestive tract. In fact, bromelain is often marketed as a natural anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis. It’s one of the most popular supplements in Germany, where it is approved by the Commission E for the treatment of inflammation and swelling of the nose and sinuses due to surgery or injury.

Bromelain is typically extracted from pineapples and made into capsule or tablet form. Because it’s able to digest protein, bromelain is available in some grocery stores as a meat tenderizer. A topical form of bromelain is also being explored experimentally for burns.

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When used for as a digestive aid, bromelain is usually taken with meals. When used for inflammatory conditions, practitioners typically recommend taking bromelain between meals on an empty stomach to maximize absorption.

History:
Bromelain is one of a group of proteolytic enzymes that are capable of digesting protein and is found in the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant. It is extracted from the pineapple by filtration or by chemical processing, and both are safe and effective. The German Commission E (the equivalent of the USFDA) recommends the use of Bromelain as a digestive aid, a treatment for traumatic injuries and joint inflammation and a treatment for bronchitis and sinusitis. There is a great deal of new research currently being conducted into its use as an antibacterial, an antiviral (including HIV) and an immune system enhancer.

Beneficial Uses:
Bromelain is considered an aid to good digestion, because it intensifies the digestive process by breaking down protein, and facilitates the passing of food to the intestine. The ability to speed protein digestion makes it useful in treating Crohn’s disease, and the protein digesting enzymes found in it may help to heal gastric ulcers and relieve symptoms of heartburn and stomach and gastrointestinal upset. It is believed to promote and maintain overall proper digestion and may be used as a digestive enzyme for pancreatic insufficiency. Interesting note: It is so effective in digesting protein that the food industry employs Bromelain to tenderize meat.

In the matter of diabetes management,
Bromelain’s ability to facilitate the passing of food to the intestine helps to counteract gastroparesis, a condition caused by long-term diabetic nerve damage, in which the stomach is unable to pass food along properly. Controlling gastroparesis is of considerable importance in diabetes management, since delays in passing flood through the digestive tract makes the timing of insulin medications and injections difficult, and the use of Bromelain may help diabetics time the need for their insulin and other medications. Moreover, Bromelain has also been used as a digestive enzyme for pancreatic insufficiency.

Bromelain has been called a fine anti-inflammatory and is widely used after traumatic injuries and surgery. It is said to “release” inflammation by breaking down proteins in swollen tissues and is thought to reduce swelling in virtually all kinds of inflammatory reactions. Bromelain apparently inhibits formation of prostaglandin E-2, a chemical that causes inflammation, and it also helps to stimulate the production of prostaglandin E-1, an anti-inflammatory chemical. Bromelain supplements may be as effective as some commonly used nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, etc.) for reducing the pain of carpal tunnel sydrome, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been said to ease pain and bruising, bursitis, cuts, lymphedema, sore muscles, tendonitis and speeds up the healing of joint and tendon injuries.

For the relief of bronchitis and sinusitis, Bromelain is said to suppress cough, reduce nasal mucus that is associated with sinusitis and relieve the swelling and inflammation caused by hay fever and allergies. Although not all experts agree, The Complete German Commission E Monograph recommends Bromelain for sinus inflammation. Bromelain supplements are believed to enhance the efficacy of antibiotics by keeping them in the system longer and helping them to treat infection. Bromelain may also stop sinusitis from progressing to bronchitis and is also thought to decrease bronchial secretions, increasing lung function, and inhibit upper respiration infections. There have been reports that the same actions that reduce blood platelet stickiness (see heart health below) also reduce the thickness of mucus in patients with chronic bronchitis or asthma. Bromelain is also approved by the Commission for treatment of sinus and nasal swelling, following ear, nose and throat surgery or trauma, which supports its anti-inflammatory properties.

Bromelain may support good heart health and lower blood pressure. It is said to stop blood clot formation by inhibiting the platelet-activating factor (PAF), a chemical that signals blood platelets to form clots. Inhibiting PAF short-circuits the entire clotting process and leads to lower blood pressure and reductions in angina pain. This anti-clotting action might help to prevent ischemic stroke and heart attack. Moreover, it is also believed that Bromelain breaks down arteriosclerotic plaques once they have formed. This blood thinning action has been said to help in cases of thrombophlebitis.

Women may find relief from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with the use of Bromelain supplements. It is believed to balance the body’s production of prostaglandins, a class of regulatory hormones, including a number of substances that cause smooth muscles to contract. As a smooth muscle relaxant, Bromelain is thought to decrease spasms of the cervix that accompany PMS.

Bromelain is believed to have strong antiviral properties and may be very helpful in stimulating the immune system. Scientists at Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital in New York City have observed that Bromelain dissolves cellular adhesion molecules that allow HIV to attach to surfaces of uninfected

T- cells and increases production of compounds called integrins that are depleted when HIV attacks cells in the central nervous system. It also inhibits protease, an enzyme the human immunodeficiency virus HIV needs to replicate itself. Its antiviral qualities appear to provide enzymes that dissolve warts and activate immune system against the viruses that cause them.

As an antiseptic, Bromelain shows great promise in copious current lab research. Some research has shown evidence that the supplement can fight against infectious agents, such as bacteria and viruses (see above), and may prove to be a useful addition to conventional treatment of bronchitis, pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Its antibacterial effects may also help to control diarrhea caused by bacteria. Bromelain is believed to increase the actions of antibiotics and chemotherapy, apparently by keeping them in the system longer.

Recommended Dosage:
Take one (1) capsule, one (1) time each day with water at mealtimes.

You may click to see:-->The Benefits of Bromelain to improve quality of life

>Bromelain The Natural Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Side Effects and Safety Concerns:

Some of the more common side effects of bromelain include indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. Other side effects may include vomiting, increased heart rate, drowsiness and abnormal uterine bleeding or heavy menstruation.

Bromelain has resulted in allergic reactions and asthma symptoms, including breathing problems, tightness in the throat, skin hives, rash or itchy skin. People with allergies to pineapples should avoid bromelain. Allergic reactions may also occur in people with allergies to latex, carrot, celery, fennel, rye, wheat, papain, bee venom or grass, birch or cypress pollens.

People with peptic ulcers should not use bromelain. People with other digestive disorders should consult a qualified healthcare professional before using bromelain.

Theoretically, bromelain may increase the risk of bleeding, so people with bleeding disorders and those taking medication that can increase the risk of bleeding should only use bromelain under the supervision of their physician. It should not be taken two weeks before or after dental procedures or surgery.

The safety of bromelain in pregnant or nursing women, children or people with liver or kidney disease isn’t known.

Possible Drug and Herb Interactions:-
People taking “blood-thinners” (anticoagulant or anti-platelet medication), such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, clopidogrel (Plavix), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve) should only use bromelain under a physician’s supervision. It should also be used with caution by people taking herbs and supplements that are thought to increase the risk of bleeding, such as ginkgo biloba and garlic.

Studies suggest bromelain may also increase the absorption of other medications, such as:

amoxicillin, tetracycline and other antibiotics

chemotherapy drugs such as 5-fluorouracil and vincristine

“ACE inhibitor” blood pressure medications such as captopril (Capoten) and lisinopril (Zestril)

medications that cause drowsiness, such as benzodiazepines lorazepam (Ativan) or diazepam (Valium), some antidepressants, narcotics such as codeine, and barbituates such as phenobarbitol.

Resources:
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsa1/a/Bromelain.htm
http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/bromelain.cfm

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New Ear Hair Grown to Boost Hearing

The cochlea and vestibule, viewed from above.Image via Wikipedia

Scientists have used gene therapy on mouse embryos to grow hair cells with the potential to reduce hearing loss in adult animals, according to a study.

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The proof-of-concept experiments are a crucial step toward therapies that could one day treat deafness and inner-ear disease in humans, said the study, published in the British journal Nature on Wednesday.

Sensory hair cells inside the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear, convert sound waves into electrical impulses that are delivered to the brain.

The loss of these cells and the neurons they contain is the most common cause of hearing impairment and so-called nerve deafness. At birth, humans have about about 30,000 hair cells, which can be damaged by factors like infections, aging, genetic diseases, loud noise or treatment with certain drugs.

In most cases, damaged hair cells do not regrow in mature humans. But recent research has kindled hope that nerve deafness may one day be curable.

A team of scientists led by John Brigande at the Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland showed that implanting a gene known as Atoh1 into the inner ear of a mouse embryo coaxed non-sensory cells to become hair cells.

Earlier research had pointed to similar results, but this is the first study to show that the cells generated by the gene therapy are functional.

The production of extra, working hair cells in a mouse embryo could be an important step toward using similar therapies in human patients, the study by the researchers in US said.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Inversion Exercise

Step-1
Step1

Kneel with your forearms and palms on the floor, shoulder‘s width apart. Spread your fingers. Straighten your legs and walk in until your heels are on the floor and your knees are straight.

Step 2:

Keep your head and shoulders lifted away from the floor. Slowly shift more weight to your right leg and begin to raise your left leg. Focus on keeping your hips and shoulders facing the floor. Pause for three breaths. Lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Do three sets of the above exercise and take little rest.

Inversions take weight away from the legs and improve circulation. If done on a regular basis, they will enhance your concentration skills by bringing more blood flow to the brain. Use this simple inversion move to become familiar with the correct positioning.

Sources: Los Angeles Times

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How Safe is Stevia

The sweetener is banned from food products in the U.S. due to toxicity fears. But the findings of several recent studies suggest otherwise.

Stevia  followers are a diverse bunch, including health nuts and food-industry magnates. The draw? The sweetener is all-natural and naturally calorie-free. But “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe, and scientists have long struggled to make sense of early evidence hinting that stevia could be toxic. A series of studies published last month in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology put that question to the test for one type of stevia-based sweeteners.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES OF  STEVIA

Stevia, a South American shrub, has leaves up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. Extracts have been available as a dietary supplement since 1995. It’s a popular food additive in Japan, Brazil and its native Paraguay, but in the U.S., where the Food and Drug Administration has determined there isn’t sufficient proof it’s nontoxic, stevia is banned from such uses. (Exceptions are made for food and drink items billing themselves as dietary supplements, such as the stevia-sweetened diet drink Zevia.)

FOR THE RECORD:
Stevia sweeteners: An article in Monday’s Health section about no-calorie sweeteners derived from the plant stevia said supermarket sales tests of stevia-derived rebaudioside A (sold as Truvia) were being conducted in New York with the blessing of the Food and Drug Administration. Permission from the FDA was not required for Truvia to be sold. However, Truvia is the subject of an FDA review process that will determine whether the product is safe and allowed to remain on the market. —

The sponsors of the recently published studies — food manufacturer Cargill and the Coca-Cola Co. — hope that in light of recent findings, the agency will reconsider its position on the calorie-free sweetener.

Scientists began studying stevia in the lab roughly 40 years ago, and the first findings gave food safety officials in several countries pause. A 1968 study in female rats showed that drinking a concoction of stevia leaves and stems significantly reduced fertility. A 1985 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that steviol, a breakdown product of stevia, might cause genetic mutations. (In Paraguayan traditional medicine, stevia is used to lower blood sugar and as a contraceptive.)

Evidence of genetic and reproductive toxicity was sufficient to inspire a ban on the sweetener in the U.S. since the 1970s. (The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act made it legal to sell stevia as a dietary supplement only, as long as it’s not an ingredient in food.) But the research on which the FDA based its long-ago decision may now be out of date. In the last decade, countless studies have revisited stevia, often using purer extracts.

The more-recent research has largely focused on purified forms of the two main chemicals responsible for the stevia plant’s sweetness: stevioside and rebaudioside A. Findings from some studies — still few in number — have resulted in a perhaps overstated claim: that stevia lowers blood pressure.

For example, a 2000 study of 100 adults in Taiwan showed that 250 milligrams of stevioside a day lowered subjects’ blood pressure by 8% to 12% within three months. A 2003 Chinese study in which nearly 170 adults were given 1,500 mg of stevioside daily in three 500 mg doses also reported that subjects’ blood pressure went down. (Both doses are far greater than the amount of stevioside in the few grains of powdered stevia it takes to sweeten a cup of tea.)

Authors of a 2006 report by the World Health Organization acknowledged the promise of the blood pressure studies. The authors also reviewed the dozens of lab and animal studies that had been done on stevioside and rebaudioside A in recent years — and concluded that the compounds appear unlikely to harm DNA or the reproductive system.

The eight studies published in Food and Chemical Toxicology last month went even further. One report showed no reproductive toxicity in rats exposed to the sweetener for two generations, and two human studies showed that 1,000 mg of rebaudioside A per day was safe for healthy adults as well as those with Type 2 diabetes. Rebaudioside A (dubbed Rebiana by Coca-Cola and Cargill) is “safe for human consumption,” three of the study authors wrote. They did not report on stevioside.

These latest findings — should the FDA find them compelling — may be good news for food manufacturers, which have long sought a natural zero-calorie sugar alternative to market to the calorie-conscious public.

But some aren’t convinced it’s good news for consumers just yet. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition advocacy group, said the research still hasn’t quelled concerns about stevia’s genetic toxicity. Although dozens of studies have shown stevia compounds to be harmless, a handful suggest it can damage genetic material. “It’s a warning flag,” he said.

Jacobson added that genetic toxicity may turn out to be attributable to a specific species or component of stevia. Cargill, meanwhile, is certain that at least one stevia component is safe. Rebaudioside A, under the brand name Truvia, is already on store shelves in New York as a test, with the FDA’s blessing. Consumers can expect to see it across the country this fall — if the FDA agrees.

Sources: Los Angles Times

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