Herbs And Health Uncategorized Archives - Herbs And Health

Category: Uncategorized

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes

Broccoli Extract Shows Promise For Type 2 Diabetes
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Image sources – see foot of article

Type 2 Diabetes is a global epidemic affecting over 422 million people worldwide. With numerous complications ranging from blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and amputations, it is more than a blood sugar problem. [1] Given such grave implications, the search for a more effective, safe, and affordable treatment has never been more in need of urgency.

Surprisingly, the search for the latest development in diabetes treatments may find its answer within the humble vegetable, the broccoli.

In a human trial study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers discovered that concentrated broccoli sprout extract may help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. For 12 weeks, 97 type-2 diabetic participants were given broccoli sprout extracts and then monitored for changes in blood glucose levels. After the specified period, it was clear to the researchers that the extract was exerting a favorable effect. The obese participants showed a 10 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar levels compared to the control group. The exact reason why it seems to work better for those patients who are obese is not yet clear. Although 10 percent may seem like a small reduction, it is a significant improvement considering the fact that for every 1 percent decrease reduces the risk of eye, nerve, and kidney damage by 40 percent. [2]

The researchers attributed this effect to a compound found in broccoli called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane had already been found to exert a hypoglycemic effect in animal models by blocking liver cells from producing glucose. This, in theory, explains the observed effect in the human study. [3]

Despite these promising results, researchers are quick to point out that the research work has a long way to go. The test subject is small and the trial period is short. Still, they remain optimistic and are looking forward to doing more tests. But that needn’t stop you: Broccoli, noted for numerous other health benefits, is a wonderful addition to the diet. Steam lightly with a small amount of butter and you have an excellent, nutritious side dish that may also have remarkable healing qualities.

References:

[1] Diabetes http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

[2] Diabetes HbA1c https://www.hrsa.gov/quality/toolbox/measures/diabetes/

[3] Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and improves glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes (2017) http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/394/eaah4477

Infographic photo sources:
Pixabay.com (PD)

Olive Oil Nutrient Found To HALT Brain Cancer Cells In Their Tracks

Olive Oil Nutrient Found To HALT Brain Cancer Cells In Their Tracks
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Image sources – see foot of article

The Mediterranean diet has long been regarded one of the healthiest ways of eating, especially with regard to heart problems and cancer. Typically made up of plant-based foods, fish, whole grains, the Mediterranean diet is more famously known for its liberal use of olive oil and tomatoes.

Researchers now believe that one of the principal keys to the diet’s benefit lies in its replacement of less-healthy fats with the healthy fats found in olive oil. Olive oil is naturally rich in Vitamin K, E and omega fatty acids 3 and 6. This combination of nutrients is believed to be the reason why the Mediterranean diet appears so capable of safeguarding heart health and affording longevity to a person. [1]

But the effects of olive oil go well beyond its heart protective properties. In a fascinating series of recent studies, researchers have discovered that olive oil is also a good for your brain. A study undertaken by the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) of Philadelphia, USA has found that extra-virgin olive oil can help preserve memory function and even fight against Alzheimer’s. [2]

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition characterized by cognitive decline and memory impaired caused by the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques destroy the delicate structure of the brain, causing deleterious effects on a person’s cognitive functions, notably their ability to retain and recall information. In the study, researchers were to discover that olive oil is capable of trigger the brain’s defense mechanism against amyloid plaques. This defense mechanism is called autophagy. With the presence of olive oil in the diet, the occurrence of autophagy increases, which breaks down and clears out “debris” in the brain. With the debris out of the way, brain function is spared and may work optimally.

Another benefit of adding olive oil to your diet is the anti-cancer properties that researchers have noted. Considering the fact that certain types of brain cancer have some of the poorest prognoses around, every single step you can take to prevent them is most welcome. [3] A study from the University of Edinburgh has determined that oleic acid, the primary ingredient in olive oil, is capable of stopping cancer-causing genes from functioning within brain cells. Oleic acid prevents the protein known as MS12 from decreasing the levels of an anticancer molecule called mIR-7. When there is enough mIR-7 in the brain, the likelihood of developing brain tumors is drastically decreased. [4]

Although cancer is a multifactorial disease and there is no one direct way of surely preventing it, incorporating high-quality olive oil in your diet would definitely seem to be a decision that’s a step towards the right direction.

References:

[1] If olive oil is high in fat, why is it considered healthy? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/food-and-nutrition/faq-20058439

[2] Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Memory and Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease, New Research at Temple Shows http://www.templehealth.org/News/Extra-VirginOliveOilPreservesMemoryandProtectsBrainAgainstAlzheimersDiseaseNewResearchatTempleShows

[3] Survival Rates for Selected Adult Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

[4] Oleic Acid Induces MiR-7 Processing through Remodeling of Pri-MiR-7/Protein Complex (2017) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022283617301997a

Infographic photo sources:
Pixabay.com (PD)

Study Confirms Benefits Of Fennel In Reducing Postmenopause Symptoms

Study Confirms Benefits of Fennel in Reducing Postmenopause Symptoms
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Image sources – see foot of article

Menopause brings in a number of inevitable physiological changes to women that affect their day-to-day lives. There are symptoms that appear before, during and after the onset of menopause. The medical community refers to these symptoms collectively as postmenopausal syndrome. [1] The most common symptoms include mood swings, weight gain, occasional hot flashes, urinary tract infections, vaginal dryness, sleep issues, and stress incontinence.

Menopausal symptoms are often managed by physicians using hormonal therapy. However, HT poses serious health risks including heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. Many women are veering away from hormone therapy due to these risks and exploring alternative and complementary medicine for menopause symptom management.

Remarkable new research suggests that women may be able to ameliorate post-menopausal symptoms with fennel, a flavor-enhancing herb widely used in cooking.

The study first appeared in Menopause (the journal of The North American Menopause Society). [2] It confirmed the benefits of fennel in reducing post-menopause symptoms without any serious side effects.

The experiment focused on Iranian women between 45 and 60 years old. Half of them received daily medication of fennel capsules for two months, while the other half received placebo. The participants’ responses revealed that those who were administered with fennel capsules had lower menopause rating scale scores compared to the placebo group. The study indicated the potential of fennel as a powerful substitute for hormone therapy.

Fennel has an anise flavor and is growing in popularity as an herbal medicine due to the array of benefits the plant has been reported to provide for all sorts of issues, including digestion problems. [3] Fennel is also rich in calcium, iron, vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin K, and manganese. The herb contains essential oils and phytoestrogenic properties which help manage post-menopausal symptoms.

There are also other herbal treatments for the postmenopausal syndrome as well. One of them is soy which was found to have the potential to address conditions associated with menopausal transition. Soy is rich in isoflavones which have phytoestrogenic effects, which researchers have claimed can alleviate menopausal hot flashes. [4]

Ginseng, a perennial plant, was also found beneficial for treating menopausal symptoms. It is considered as the best general purpose herb for menopause. A Korean study posited ginseng as an attractive option for postmenopausal women, especially those with elevated cardiac risk factors. [5]

Vitamins and supplements are also important components of a woman’s care during and after menopause. Some of the menopausal supplements that women use include omega 3 fatty acids, probiotic, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. But before you start popping a bunch of supplements, it is important to consult a physician first to know if your body is primed to process them. Blood work can indicate the levels of minerals and many other things in the body and this is highly regarded throughout the medical community as part of an ongoing health care regimen. Note also that some herbal treatments have been found to interact with medications and if you are using any meeds a good doctor should be consulted prior to commencing use of herbs and supplements.

References::

[1] Pronob K. Dalal and Manu Agarwal. 2015. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Postmenopausal syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539866/

[2] Fatemeh R et al. 2017. Effect of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (fennel) on menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women: a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Effect_of_Foeniculum_vulgare_Mill___fennel__on.97782.aspx

[3] Alexandrovich I et al. 2003. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12868253

[4] Messina M. 2014. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Soy foods, isoflavones, and the health of postmenopausal women https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24898224

[5] Kim SY et al. 2012. Menopause. Effects of red ginseng supplementation on menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22027944

Infographic photo sources:
Pixabay.com (PD), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fennel_seed.jpg (lic. under CC)