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Herbs & Plants

Pelargonium sidoides

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Botanical Name : Pelargonium sidoides
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Pelargonium
Species: P. sidoides
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Geraniales

Common Names :Umckaloabo, South African Geranium,Kalwerbossie, Rabassam

Habitat : Pelargonium sidoides is   native to South Africa.The plant  has a wide distribution. It occurs throughout the eastern Cape, Lesotho, Free State and southern and south-western Gauteng in the Republic of South Africa. It usually grows in short grassland and sometimes with occasional shrubs and trees on stony soil varying from sand to clay-loam, shale or basalt. P. sidoides is found at altitudes ranging from near sea level to 2300m in Lesotho. It is found in areas which receive rainfall in summer (November to March) varying from 200 – 800mm per annum.

Description:
Pelargonium sidoides forms a rosette-like plant with crowded leaves. It is very similar to some forms of P. reniforme, but is easily distinguished by its blackish, rather than pink petals. The long-stalked leaves are mildly aromatic, heart-shaped and velvety. The distinctive dark, reddish-purple (almost black) flowers are present almost throughout the year, but occur mostly from late spring to summer (October – January) with a peak in midsummer (December). The genus name Pelargonium is derived from the Greek word Pelargos which means stork. This refers to the rostrum of the schizocarp (seed capsule) which resembles the bill of a stork. The species name sidoides reflects the resemblance of the foliage to that of a European plant, Sida rhombifolia.

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Cultivation:
Pelargonium sidoides is an evergreen in cultivation, but it probably dies back in nature during droughts and in winter (May to August). The system of thickened underground root-like branches is a special adaptation which enables the plant to survive grass fires which occur almost annually over much of its range.

The plant  can be planted in rockeries in full sun. It is also an excellent pot plant. It is utilized for a variety of folk-medicinal purposes resulting in the colloguial name ‘Rabassam’

Medicinal Uses:

Studies have suggested that extracts from the plant could be used in treating acute bronchitis, acute non-GABHS tonsillopharyngitis (sore throat) in children, and the common cold.

A 2008 systematic review of these findings by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that extracts of the plant might be effective in treating adults for acute rhinosinusitis and the common cold in adults, but they noted that this conclusion is not certain. They also wrote that it might be effective in relieving the symptoms of acute bronchitis in adults and children, and also the symptoms of sinusitis in adults.

A 2009 systematic review concluded “There is encouraging evidence from currently available data that P. sidoides is effective compared to placebo for patients with acute bronchitis.”

It has been shown to be antimycobacterial with significant antibacterial properties against multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains. Gallic acid and its methyl ester present in large amounts in P. sidoides and in its active extracts, were identified as the prominent immunomodulatory principle.

The Pelargonium sidoides extract EPs 7630 is an approved drug for the treatment of acute bronchitis in Germany. Determination of virus-induced cytopathogenic effects and virus titres revealed that EPs 7630 at concentrations up to 100 g/ml interfered with replication of seasonal influenza A virus strains (H1N1, H3N2), respiratory syncytial virus, human coronavirus, parainfluenza virus, and coxsackie virus but did not affect replication of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus (H5N1), adenovirus, or rhinovirus.

“Pelargonium sidoides extract modulates the production of secretory immunoglobulin A in saliva, both interleukin-15 and interleukin-6 in serum, and interleukin-15 in the nasal mucosa. Secretory immunoglobulin A levels were increased, while levels of IL-15 and IL-6 were decreased. Based on this evidence, we suggest that this herbal medicine can exert a strong modulating influence on the immune response associated with the upper airway mucosa.”

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 200 patients concluded “EPs 7630 was shown to be efficacious and safe in the treatment of acute bronchitis in children and adolescents outside the strict indication for antibiotics with patients treated with EPs 7630 perceiving a more favorable course of the disease and a good tolerability as compared with placebo.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resourcs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelargonium_sidoides
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/pelargsidoid.htm

Categories
News on Health & Science

Is Zinc Really Good for a Cold?

A review of the medical research on zinc shows that when it is taken within one day of the first symptoms, it can cut down the time you have a cold by about 24 hours. It also greatly reduces the severity of symptoms.

The authors of the review did not make any suggestions as to what type of zinc product to buy. They also did not suggest an optimal dose or formulation, stating that more research was needed before such a recommendation could be made.

Zinc supplements also have downsides — they can cause nausea and a bad taste in the mouth, and they may interfere with your body’s uptake of other key minerals.

According to the New York Times:

“Zinc experts say that many over-the-counter zinc products may not be as effective as those studied by researchers because commercial lozenges and syrups often are made with different formulations of zinc and various flavors and binders that can alter the effectiveness of the treatment.”

Colds are transmitted only by droplets, such as from sneezing, that come from a person who’s infected. These droplets can, however, remain on surfaces for some time. Colds normally last about seven days.

Cold medicines are not recommended for children under 4, and no cold medicines are cures — they only relieve symptoms. Washing your hands is still the number one recommended way to keep yourself free of colds.

Resources:
New York Times February 15, 2011
CNN February 16, 2011
The Cochrane Collaboration Reviews: Zinc

Posted By Dr. Mercola | March 03 2011

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Featured

Alternative Treatments Used for the Common Cold

An ancient belief still common today claims that a cold can be “caught” by prolonged exposure to cold weather such as rain or winter conditions, which is where the disease got its name. Although common colds are seasonal, with more occurring during winter, experiments so far have failed to produce evidence that short-term exposure to cold weather or direct chilling increases susceptibility to infection, implying that the seasonal variation is instead due to a change in behaviors such as increased time spent indoors at close proximity to others. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that lower temperatures of the body of a person can make one more susceptible or prone to infection.

Many herbal and otherwise alternative remedies have been suggested to treat the common cold. However, none of these claims are supported by scientific evidence.

While a number of Chinese herbs and plants have been purported to ease cold symptoms, including ginger, garlic, hyssop, mullein, and others, scientific studies have either not been done or have been found inconclusive.

Echinacea…..
Echinacea flowerEchinacea, also known as coneflowers, is a plant commonly used in herbal preparations for the treatment of the common cold.

A review of sixteen trials of echinacea was done by the Cochrane Collaboration in 2006 and found mixed results. All three trials that looked at prevention were negative. Comparisons of echinacea as treatment found a significant effect in nine trials, a trend in one, and no difference in six trials. The authors state in their conclusion: “Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults but results are not fully consistent. Beneficial effects of other Echinacea preparations, and for preventative purposes might exist but have not been shown in independently replicated, rigorous randomized trials.” A review in 2007 found an overall benefit from echinacea for the common cold.

Although there have been scientific studies evaluating echinacea, its effectiveness has not been convincingly demonstrated. For example, a peer-reviewed clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that “…extracts of E. angustifolia root, either alone or in combination, do not have clinically significant effects on rhinovirus infection or on the clinical illness that results from it.” Recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in adults have not shown a beneficial effect of echinacea on symptom severity or duration of the cold. A structured review of 9 placebo controlled studies suggested that the effectiveness of echinacea in the treatment of colds has not been established. Conversely, two recent meta-analyses of published medical articles concluded that there is some evidence that echinacea may reduce either the duration or severity of the common cold, but results are not fully consistent. However, there have been no large, randomized placebo-controlled clinical studies that definitively demonstrate either prophylaxis or therapeutic effects in adults.[9][10] A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 407 children of ages ranging from 2 to 11 years showed that echinacea did not reduce the duration of the cold, nor reduce the severity of the symptoms. Most authoritative sources consider the effect of echinacea on the cold unsupported by evidence.

Vitamin C……Blackcurrants are a good source of vitamin C->
While vitamin C has not been shown to be beneficial in a normal population for the prevention or treatment of the common cold, it might be beneficial in people exposed to periods of severe physical exercise or cold environments.

A well-known supporter of the theory that Vitamin C megadosage prevented infection was physical chemist Linus Pauling, who wrote the bestseller Vitamin C and the Common Cold. A meta-analysis published in 2005 found that “the lack of effect of prophylactic vitamin C supplementation on the incidence of common cold in normal populations throws doubt on the utility of this wide practice”.

A follow-up meta-analysis supported these conclusions:

[Prophylactic use] of vitamin C has no effect on common cold incidence … [but] reduces the duration and severity of common cold symptoms slightly, although the magnitude of the effect was so small its clinical usefulness is doubtful. Therapeutic trials of high doses of vitamin C … starting after the onset of symptoms, showed no consistent effect on either duration or severity of symptoms. … More therapeutic trials are necessary to settle the question, especially in children who have not entered these trials.

Most of the studies showing little or no effect employ doses of ascorbate such as 100 mg to 500 mg per day, considered “small” by vitamin C advocates.[who?] Equally important, the plasma half life of high dose ascorbate above the baseline, controlled by renal resorption, is approximately 30 minutes, which implies that most high dose studies have been methodologically defective and would be expected to show a minimum benefit. Clinical studies of divided dose supplementation, predicted on pharmacological grounds to be effective, have only rarely been reported in the literature.

Zinc preparations…..
A 1999 Cochrane review found the evidence of benefit from zinc in the common cold is inconclusive. A 2003 review however concluded supported the value of zinc in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold when administered within 24 hours of the onset of common cold symptoms. Nasally applied zinc gels may lead to loss of smell. The FDA therefore discourages their use.

Zinc acetate and zinc gluconate have been tested as potential treatments for the common cold, in various dosage form including nasal sprays, nasal gels, and lozenges. Some studies have shown some effect of zinc preparations on the duration of the common cold, but conclusions are diverse. About half of studies demonstrate efficacy. Even studies that show clinical effect have not demonstrated the mechanism of action. The studies differ in the salt used, concentration of the salt, dosage form, and formulation, and some suffer from defects in design or methods. For example, there is evidence that the potential efficacy of zinc gluconate lozenges may be affected by other food acids (citric acid, ascorbic acid and glycine) present in the lozenge. Furthermore, interpretation of the results depends on whether concentration of total zinc or ionic zinc is considered.

A recent study showed that zinc acetate lozenges (13.3 mg zinc) shortened the duration and reduced the severity of common colds compared to placebo in a placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial. Intracellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1) was inhibited by the ionic zinc present in the active lozenges, and the difference was statistically significant between the groups.

There are concerns regarding the safety of long-term use of cold preparations in an estimated 25 million persons who are haemochromatosis heterozygotes. Use of high doses of zinc for more than two weeks may cause copper depletion, which leads to anemia. Other adverse events of high doses of zinc include nausea, vomiting gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, drowsiness, unpleasant taste, taste distortion, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Some users of nasal spray applicators containing zinc have reported temporary or permanent loss of sense of smell.

Although widely available and advertised in the United States as dietary supplements or homeopathic treatments, the safety and efficacy of zinc preparations have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Authoritative sources consider the effect of zinc preparations on the cold unproven.

Steam inhalation

Many people believe that steam inhalation reduces symptoms of the cold. However, one double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study found no effect of steam inhalation on cold symptoms. A scientific review of medical literature concluded that “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of steam inhalation as a treatment.” There have been reports of children being badly burned when using steam inhalation to alleviate cold symptoms leading to the recommendation to “…start discouraging patients from using this form of home remedy, as there appears to be no significant benefit from steam inhalation.”

Chicken soup…..
In the twelfth century, Moses Maimonides wrote, “Chicken soup…is recommended as an excellent food as well as medication.” Since then, there have been numerous reports in the United States that chicken soup alleviates the symptoms of the common cold. Even usually staid medical journals have published tongue-in-cheek humorous articles on the alleged medicinal properties of chicken soup.

PREVENTION  :
It might seem overwhelming to try to prevent colds, but you can do it. Children average three to eight colds per year.

Here are five proven ways to reduce exposure to germs:-

*Always wash your hands: Children and adults should wash hands at key moments — after nose-wiping, after diapering or toileting, before eating, and before preparing food.

*Disinfect: Clean commonly touched surfaces (sink handles, sleeping mats) with an EPA-approved disinfectant.

*Switch day care: Using a day care where there are six or fewer children dramatically reduces germ contact.

*Use instant hand sanitizers: A little dab will kill 99.99% of germs without any water or towels. The products use alcohol to destroy germs. They are an antiseptic, not an antibiotic, so resistance can’t develop.

*Use paper towels instead of shared cloth towels.

Here are six ways to support the immune system:-

*Avoid secondhand smoke: Keep as far away from secondhand smoke as possible It is responsible for many health problems, including millions of colds.

*Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: The more people use antibiotics, the more likely they are to get sick with longer, more stubborn infections caused by more resistant organisms in the future.

*Breastfeed: Breast milk is known to protect against respiratory tract infections, even years after breastfeeding is done. Kids who don’t breastfeed average five times more ear infections.

*Drink water: Your body needs fluids for the immune system to function properly.

*Eat yogurt: The beneficial bacteria in some active yogurt cultures help prevent colds.

*Get enough sleep: Late bedtimes and poor sleep leave people vulnerable.

Research
Biota Holdings are developing a drug, currently known as BTA798, which targets rhinovirus. The drug has recently completed Phase IIa clinical trials.

ViroPharma and Schering-Plough are developing an antiviral drug, pleconaril, that targets picornaviruses, the viruses that cause the majority of common colds. Pleconaril has been shown to be effective in an oral form. Schering-Plough is developing an intra-nasal formulation that may have fewer adverse effects.

Researchers from University of Maryland, College Park and University of Wisconsin–Madison have mapped the genome for all known virus strains that cause the common cold.

Common Cold Unit
In the United Kingdom, the Common Cold Unit was set up by the Medical Research Council in 1946. The unit worked with volunteers who were infected with various viruses. The rhinovirus was discovered there.  In the late 1950s, researchers were able to grow one of these cold viruses in a tissue culture, as it would not grow in fertilized chicken eggs, the method used for many other viruses. In the 1970s, the CCU demonstrated that treatment with interferon during the incubation phase of rhinovirus infection protects somewhat against the disease, but no practical treatment could be developed. The unit was closed in 1989, two years after it completed research of zinc gluconate lozenges in the prophylaxis and treatment of rhinovirus colds, the only successful treatment in the history of the unit.

Resources :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_treatments_used_for_the_common_cold#Zinc_preparations
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000678.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_cold

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Suppliments our body needs

Creatine

 

Other Names: creatine monohydrate, creatine phosphate, creatine citrate

Definition:Creatine is nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates and helps to supply energy to muscle and nerve cells. Creatine was identified in 1832 when Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered it as a component of skeletal muscle, which he later named creatine after the Greek word for flesh, Kreas.

It is a compound that’s involved in the production of energy in the body, in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Made in the liver, approximately 95% of the body’s creatine ends up being stored in skeletal muscles and the remaining 5% is found in the brain, heart and testes. Once it’s used, creatine is converted to a waste product called creatinine and excreted in urine.

Functions:

Creatine, by way of conversion to and from phosphocreatine, functions in all vertebrates and some invertebrates, in conjunction with the enzyme creatine kinase. A similar system based on arginine/phosphoarginine operates in many invertebrates via the action of Arginine Kinase. The presence of this energy buffer system keeps the ATP/ADP ratio high at subcellular places where ATP is needed, which ensures that the free energy of ATP remains high and minimizes the loss of adenosine nucleotides, which would cause cellular dysfunction. Such high-energy phosphate buffers in the form of phosphocreatine or phosphoarginine are known as phosphagens. In addition, due to the presence of subcompartmentalized Creatine Kinase Isoforms at specific sites of the cell, the phosphocreatine/creatine kinase system also acts as an intracellular energy transport system from those places where ATP is generated (mitochondria and glycolysis) to those places where energy is needed and used, e.g., at the myofibrils for muscle contraction, at the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) for calcium pumping, and at the sites of many more biological processes that depend on ATP.

Biosynthesis:
In humans, about half of the daily creatine is biosynthesized from three different amino acids – arginine, glycine, and methionine. The rest is taken in by alimentary sources. Ninety-five percent of creatine is later stored in the skeletal muscles.

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The enzyme GATM (L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT), EC 2.1.4.1) is a mitochondrial enzyme responsible for catalyzing the first rate-limiting step of creatine biosynthesis, and is primarily expressed in the kidneys and pancreas.

The second enzyme in the pathway (GAMT, guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase, EC:2.1.1.2) is primarily expressed in the liver and pancreas.

Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects.

Controversy:While creatine’s effectiveness in the treatment of many muscular, neuromuscular, and neuro-degenerative diseases is documented, its utility as a performance-enhancing food supplement in sports has been questioned (see creatine supplements for more information). Some have even proposed that its use as a performance enhancer should be banned. Despite this, creatine remains very popular.

Sources:
In humans, approximately half of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from fresh meat). Since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians show lower levels of muscle creatine which, upon creatine supplementation, rise to a level higher than in meat-eaters.

Creatine is found in small amounts in red meat and fish. However, much of it is destroyed by cooking. It’s also made naturally in the body from L-arginine, L-glycine and L-methionine, amino acids that are principally found in animal protein. Insulin is needed for creatine to enter muscles, so consuming carbohydrates with creatine may increase the amount of creatine available to muscles.

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Creatine supplements are available in capsules or as a powder at health food stores, some drug stores and online. One of the most popular forms of creatine is creatine monohydrate.

Side effects:-

In the Cochrane Collaboration analysis of 12 trials, there were no notable adverse events reported, however, research on the side effects and safety of creatine supplements is still limited.

Possible side effects of creatine include:

*Stomach cramps

*Nausea
*Diarrhea

*Loss of appetite

*Muscle cramps

*Weight gain

Creatine may cause water to be drawn away from other areas of the body and into muscle tissue, which could increase the risk of dehydration.

High doses of creatine could potentially injure the kidneys, liver and heart. Theoretically, creatine may cause kidney damage because its by-product, creatinine, is filtered through the kidneys into urine. Although studies haven’t found adverse events in recommended doses, there have been a couple of case reports of people who have experienced kidney collapse and three deaths in people taking creatine, but there is no definitive evidence that creatine was the cause. People with kidney disease or liver disease should avoid creatine.

Creatine supplements may cause asthmatic symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing, in some people.

People with McArdle’s disease shouldn’t use high doses of creatine because it has been found to increase muscle pain.

There is some concern that oral creatine supplements are metabolized in the body to a toxic waste product formaldehyde, which could potentially damage cells, DNA molecules and blood vessels.

Pregnant or nursing women or children should not use creatine supplements.

One of the main safety concerns is that individuals using creatine to enhance athletic performance or muscle mass, particularly adolescents, may exceed recommended dosages and take it without supervision.

Short-term use of creatine in healthy individuals is generally considered safe (see Creatine supplements#Safety). , studies have not yet been able to demonstrate either long-term or short term creatine supplementation result in adverse health effects. Creatine supplementation utilizing proper cycling and dosages has not been linked with any adverse side effects beyond occasional dehydration due to increased muscular water uptake from the rest of the body.[13] In fact, an increase in body mass because of increased muscle hydration is the most widely accepted side effect of creatine supplementation[14][15].

According to the opinion statement of the European Food Safety Authorities (EFSA) published in 2004 it was concluded that “The safety and bioavailability of the requested source of creatine, creatine monohydrate in foods for particular nutritional uses, is not a matter of concern provided that there is adequate control of the purity of this source of creatine (minimum 99.95%) with respect to dicyandiamide and dihydro-1,3,5-triazine derivatives, as well as heavy metal contamination. The EFSA Panel endorses the previous opinion of the SCF that high loading doses (20 gram / day) of creatine should be avoided. Provided high purity creatine monohydrate is used in foods for particular nutritional uses, the Panel considers that the consumption of doses of up to 3g/day of supplemental creatine, similar to the daily turnover rate of creatine, is unlikely to pose any risk”.

This opinion is corroborated by the fact that creatine is a natural component in mothers’ milk and that creatine is absolutely necessary for brain development in the human embryo and the baby, as well as for optimal physiological functioning of the adult human body, especially the brain, nervous system, the muscles and other organs and cells of high energy expenditure, where the creatine kinase (CK) system is highly expressed and creatine levels are high.

Side effects that produce lower leg pain may be associated with the use of creatine. Creatine may be the cause of an increase in the anterior pressures of the lower leg. This is usually found in post-creatine use when at rest and after exercise. Normal at-rest pressures have been found to be highly elevated by subjects who used creatine within the prior 35 days when compared to no supplementation. This can produce an extreme amount of pain in the lower leg due to the rigidity of the anterior compartment of the lower leg and lack of fluid drainage out of the compartment. It may also be exasperated by the increase of water content in the muscle fibers, putting more pressure on the anterior compartment. If this condition persist, check with your doctor and inform them of your creatine use and dosage. Although this condition may and usually does subside, if left untreated complications may occur that require emergency medical attention. If the levels remain high for a long period of time, irreversible damage to tissue may occur, particularly to the peroneal nerve. These conditions can further be found under Chronic Compartment Syndrome.

Creatine and the treatment of muscular diseases:
Creatine supplementation has been, and continues to be, investigated as a possible therapeutic approach for the treatment of muscular, neuromuscular, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases (arthritis, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, disuse atrophy, gyrate atrophy, McArdle’s disease, Huntington’s disease, miscellaneous neuromuscular diseases, mitochondrial diseases, muscular dystrophy, neuroprotection, etc.).

Two studies have indicated that creatine may be beneficial for neuromuscular disorders. First, a study demonstrated that creatine is twice as effective as the prescription drug riluzole in extending the lives of mice with the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). The neuroprotective effects of creatine in the mouse model of ALS may be due either to an increased availability of energy to injured nerve cells or to a blocking of the chemical pathway that leads to cell death.

Second, creatine has been demonstrated to cause modest increases in strength in people with a variety of neuromuscular disorders.

Third, creatine has been shown to be beneficial as an adjuvant treatment for several neuro-muscular and neuro-degenerative diseases and its potential is just beginning to be explored in several multi-center clinical studies in the USA and elsewhere.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatine
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/creatine/a/creatine.htm

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Healthy Tips

Simple Therapy for Back Pain

Paracetamol and keeping active are the best cures for back pain, according to Australian researchers who warn that other treatments do not work.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
A Lancet study of 240 back pain sufferers found anti-inflammatory drugs and spinal manipulation did not make any difference to recovery time.

Yet currently, both treatments are recommended in several guidelines.

Experts said patients needed to be reassured that avoiding bed rest and taking paracetamol would work.

Researchers at the University of Sydney assigned patients to receive either an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac, a dummy drug, spinal manipulation or fake manipulation therapy.

They had already received simple treatment advice from their GP to keep active, avoid bed rest and take paracetamol for the pain.

The study found no difference in recovery times after 12 weeks in patients who also received diclofenac or spinal manipulation.

Almost all the patients had recovered by the end of the study no matter what treatment they had received.

Adverse effects

Study leader Mark Hancock said there was no clinical benefit from the additional treatments.

And both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as diclofenac or ibuprofen, and spinal manipulation are associated with adverse effects, he added.

“GPs can manage patients confidently without exposing them to increased risks and costs associated with NSAIDs or spinal manipulative therapy,” he said.

Dr Bart Koes from the Department of General Practice at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, who wrote an accompanying article in The Lancet, said the results were probably applicable to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

He told the BBC: “It is very likely that for many patients with acute low back pain currently treated with NSAIDs and/or spinal manipulation this would not have been needed if adequate first-line treatment with paracetamol and advice and reassurance was given.”

Dr Stuart Derbyshire, senior lecturer in the School of Psychology and expert in pain at the University of Birmingham, also agreed with the findings.

“For most people, providing simple care and advice should guide the patient through their acute phase of pain and allow them to return to normal life when that acute phase is over.”

Back pain is the largest single cause of sickness absence from work.

But Tony Metcalfe, president of the British Chiropractic Association warned the therapy in the study could not be compared with the treatment provided by chiropracters in the UK.

“Spinal manipulation is just part of a package of care offered by BCA chiropractors which also includes lifestyle and posture advice, rehabilitation and specific exercises.”

He added that spinal manipulation therapy is a safe treatment and none of the study participants reported serious adverse reactions.

Nia Taylor, chief executive of BackCare said the key message for people was to keep moving.

“We know that many GPs feel ill-equipped to help patients with low back pain and sometimes people are not given the right advice and reassurance when they first see a GP.”

She added: “In the UK a standard appointment of 10 minutes may not be long enough to give adequate advice and reassurance and convince the patient that a regime of paracetamol and keeping active is enough to ensure recovery.”

You may click to see:->Yoga ‘can help to cut back pain’

>Sitting straight ‘bad for backs’

>Yoga tested as back pain therapy

> Back pain sufferers need to work

>Needles ‘are best for back pain’

>Back pain guide

>Exercises for Back Pain

Sources: BBC NEWS:Nov 9th. ’07

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