Benefits of ashwagandha | Ashwagandha can change your Life!


Ashwagandha root is known as “Indian Ginseng”. In Ayurvedic medicine it is considered an adaptogen that facilitates learning and memory. In a 1993 clinical study in India, fifty people complaining of lethargy and fatigue for 2 to 6 months were given an adaptogenic tonic made up of eleven herbs, including 760 mg of ashwagandha, once a day.

http://www.speakingtree.in/slideshow/benefits-of-ashwagandha

Another Reason To Add Saffron To Your Diet, It May Have Anti-Cancer Properties


Saffron (kesar) is the spice that we add to biryani for that signature golden colour, or sprinkle on top of desserts for its delicate flavour. This spice is also loaded with health benefits and has been used in traditional medicines for centuries thanks to its antioxidant, antiseptic, antidepressant and anticonvulsant properties. Copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and Vitamins A and C are just some of the vitamins and minerals that saffron contains.

Saffron Liver Cancer

 

New research has found that a biomolecule in saffron known as crocin protects the liver.

Researchers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) University have found that a biomolecule named crocin, which is the main active ingredient in saffron, is good for the liver and prevents a deadly form of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The team investigated the anti-carcinogenic effect of crocin on an experimental carcinogenesis model of liver cancer by studying the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of crocin in vivo. They found that crocin has chemoprotective properties against HCC.

Apart from saffron, here are 14 other spices that can help prevent cancer.

Saffron Liver Cancer

 

Ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and coriander are just a few of the other spices that may have anti-carcinogenic properties! Check out the complete list.

These anti-carcinogenic foods can help as well!

Anti Cancer Foods

 

25 Cancer Stem-Cell Killing Foods That Are Smarter Than Chemo and Radiation


A new scientific review has identified 25 of the top foods and herbs which kill cancer stem cells at the root cause of cancer malignancy. 

There are thousands of natural compounds that have been studied with demonstrable anti-cancer activity (check out over 600 on GreenMedInfo’s cancer research database), but only a small subset of these have been proven to target and kill the cancer stem cells which lie at theroot of cancer malignancy. Turmeric, for instance, we have featured a number of times for its “smart kill” property of targeting just the heart of cancerous tumors. More recently, ginger has been found in pre-clinical research to contain a compound up to 10,000 times more effective than the chemotherapy drug Taxol at killing breast cancer stem cells. Even common foods like blueberry have special cancer killing properties, as discussed in a previous article for GreenMedInfo: Research: Radiotherapy Causes Cancer, Blueberry Kills It.

25 Cancer Stem-Cell Killing Foods That Are Smarter Than Chemo and Radiation

A new study published in the journalAnticancer Research, titled “Natural Products That Target Cancer Stem Cells“, has made our job much easier of identifying this special category of cancer killers by reviewing the extant literature on the topic and listing the top 25 substances in this category. They are listed here below, along with some of their commonly recognizable dietary sources.

25 Cancer Stem Cell Killing Foods

  1. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)Green Tea

  2. 6-Gingerol – Ginger

  3. ?-Carotene – Carrot, Leafy Greens

  4. BaicaleinChinese Skullcap

  5. CurcuminTurmeric

  6. Cyclopamine – Corn Lilly [we do not suggest consuming this plant; this simply illustrates natural components exist that kill cancer stem cells]

  7. Delphinidin – Blueberry, raspberrry

  8. Flavonoids (Genistein) – Soy, red clover, coffee

  9. Gossypol – Cottonseed [we do not suggest consuming this plant; this simply illustrates natural components exist that kill cancer stem cells]

  10. Guggulsterone – Commiphora (myrrh tree)

  11. Isothiocyanates – Cruciferous vegetables

  12. Linalool – Mint

  13. Lycopene – Grapefruit, tomato

  14. Parthenolide – Feverfew

  15. Perylill alcohol – Mint, cherry, lavender

  16. Piperine – Black pepper

  17. Placycodon saponin – Playycodon grandifloruim

  18. Psoralidin – Psoralea corylilyfolia

  19. Quercetin – Capers, onion

  20. Resveratrol – Grapes, plums, berries

  21. Salinomycin – Streptomyces albus

  22. Silibinin – Milk Thistle

  23. Ursolic acid – Thyme, basil, oregano

  24. Vitamin D3 – Fish, egg yolk, beef, cod liver oil

  25. Withaferin A – Withania somnifera (ashwaganda)

Why are these substances so important?

The primary reason why conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy have failed to produce any significant improvements in cancer survival rates is because cancer stem cells are resistant to these interventions. In fact, chemotherapy and especially radiation are both capable of increasing the number and virulence of these cells in a tumor, while at the same time having the well known side effect of further damaging the patient’s immune system.

While the cancer industry is still very much resistant to incorporating the implications of these findings into their standard of care (which is highly unethical), there are an increasing number of health practitioners that will not turn their back on the truth and are very much interested in alternative ways to prevent and treat cancer using food and/or plant-based approaches.

The new study addresses the relevance of cancer stem cells as follows:

The cancer stem cell model suggests that tumor initiation is governed by a small subset of distinct cells with stem-like character termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs possess properties of self-renewal and intrinsic survival mechanisms that contribute to resistance of tumors to most chemotherapeutic drugs. The failure to eradicate CSCs during the course of therapy is postulated to be the driving force for tumor recurrence and metastasis. Recent studies have focused on understanding the unique phenotypic properties of CSCs from various tumor types, as well as the signaling pathways that underlie self-renewal and drug resistance.”

At present, the cancer industry has failed to produce a single drug that targets the cancer stem cell population of cells within a tumor, as confirmed by the study:

If indeed the CSC response is a vital criterion for cancer treatment evaluation, there are still no drugs in clinical use that specifically target CSCs.

The ability to selectively target cancer cells, and cancer stem cells in particular, while leaving intact the non-tumor cells in tissue is extremely important. We have created a section on the GreenMedInfo database that indexes research on these substances and now includes 67 of them here. We are also building a section that collates research cancer stem cells, a topic will no doubt become a central part of the future of cancer treatment, assuming the priority is to actually alleviate suffering and not just make money off of patients.

Anxiety Makes People Clean Obsessively


Being in an anxious, stressful situation may make people less slovenly. A new study in the journal Current Biology finds a link between temporary anxiety and obsessive cleaning.

To see how people acted when anxious, researchers led by University of Connecticut anthropologist Martin Lang prodded a group of Czech university students to freak out over a public speaking task (so-called glossophobia is regularly cited as one of people’s most common fears). First, students were presented with a shiny statue, and asked to come up with a speech about it. After giving their speech to a panel, they were asked to clean the object. 

Compared to a control group who didn’t have to give a speech, participants who had to face the anxiety-inducing task of speaking in front of an expert panel were more repetitive in the way they cleaned. The amount of anxiety the students reported feeling over the task predicted how many repeated movements they made while cleaning, and how long they spent doing it before they declared the object suitably spiffy.  

The study’s authors hypothesize that in times of stress, people might turn to repetitive behavior like cleaning because it gives them a sense of control over an otherwise uncertain situation. In the absence of a very defined, pre-set task (such as cleaning), people under pressure—before a competition, say—may turn to different outlets, like biting their nails or praying. 

Man with bionic penis after his was ripped off in accident is due to lose his virginity


  • Mohammed Abad was six when his manhood was destroyed in accident 
  • Was fitted with a bionic penis in 2012 and can now urinate and ejaculate 
  • Plans to lose his virginity next week to sex worker Charlotte Rose, 35,  
  • Says he had an erection for a fortnight after surgery to let his penis heal 
  • Rose said she feels ‘honoured’ to have been chosen as his first lover

A man fitted with a ‘bionic penis’ – after losing his own in a freak road accident – is set to lose his virginity at the age of 43 to a sex campaigner.

Mohammed Abad, who was recently fitted with a ‘bionic penis’ after losing his own in a freak road accident, revealed he is set to lose his virginity aged 43 to a sex worker

Mohammed Abad, from Edinburgh, will take the momentous step next week with sex worker Charlotte Rose, 35, after the pair ‘get to know each other’ over a dinner date in London.

He told The Sun: ‘I have waited long enough for this — it’ll be a great start to the new year. My penis is working perfectly now so I just want to do it. I’m really excited. I can’t wait for it to finally happen.’

Abad lost his penis and testicle when he was run over by a car at age six.

He was pushed into the road, falling under a moving car which dragged him for 600 yards, resulting in serious injuries to his genitals and thighs.

The softly spoken man first had surgery to fit the eight inch bionic penis in 2012. But it has only been fully functional since July 2015, when surgeons performed a special operation.

Rose, a campaigner for sexual freedom who previously stood as an independent candidate in the Rochester and Strood by- election says she will not be charging Abad.

She told The Sun that she she feels ‘honoured’ to have been chosen as his first lover.

The pair will meet for a dinner date to get to know each other before they do the deed.

Rose a dominatrix and friend of former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, claims to have slept with more than 1,000 men.

During her stint as a politician she received 43 votes for policies including more sex education in schools, ‘sexual equality’ for the elderly and disabled, and the legalisation of the sex industry.

Abad, who was married over two years ago, has been single since his wife left him before he had the bionic penis fitted.

He had kept the fact that he had no penis or testicle a secret from his wife until their wedding night.

He has since realized that this was a mistake as his ex-wife became tired of waiting for him to solve his affliction so they could make love and have children, he claims.

Last year, Abad admitted that he had an erection for a fortnight after surgery to let his penis heal.

Rose said that she hopes that losing his virginity will give him confidence with other women.

Rose (pictured) said that she hopes that losing his virginity will give him confidence with other women

Rose (pictured) said that she hopes that losing his virginity will give Abad confidence with other women

HOW MOHAMMED ABAD’S BIONIC PENIS WORKS WITH AN ON/OFF SWITCH

The sexual device contains two tubes which fill up using liquid from his stomach, allowing him to maintain an erection.

The contraption – complete with ‘on’ and ‘off’ buttons in his testicles to pump it up or deflate it – was made from the flesh of his arm and fitted by surgeons at University College London.

It has a button in his testicles which he can press to pump it up, as well as another button which drains the penis after use, so it deflates.

The sexual device contains two tubes which fill up using liquid from his stomach, allowing him to maintain an erection. This process is activated by 'on' and 'off' buttons in his testicles which pump it up and deflate it

The sexual device contains two tubes which fill up using liquid from his stomach, allowing him to maintain an erection. This process is activated by ‘on’ and ‘off’ buttons in his testicles which pump it up and deflate it

Moulding and attaching it took three years, with doctors from University College London using a skin graft from his arm to line its shaft.

The skin and fat from his forearm was removed to create the new penis, which was then attached during an 11-hour operation.

Along with giving him a sex life it has also allowed him to pass urine standing up for the first time.

It took surgeons at University College London three years to mould Mohammed Abad’s new penis using skin taken from his arm.

The skin and fat from Mr Abad's forearm (pictured) was removed to create the new penis, which was then attached during an 11-hour operation

The skin and fat from Mr Abad’s forearm (pictured) was removed to create the new penis, which was then attached during an 11-hour operation

During an interview with This Morning last year, he told presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby that he’d had an erection for a whole fortnight after the surgery.

‘I got out of hospital on the 10th of July and got a train back up to Scotland. I had to keep it erect for two weeks.

‘I had to do that for it to heal, because that’s the way it works. My old penis didn’t go to waste – my surgeon used it to make my scrotum,’ he added.

Over the past three years he has had a total of 119 operations and one final 11-hour procedure to fit the inflation system.

When questioned about whether his bionic penis has the same sensation as other men’s, he said he doesn’t believe it does.

‘It doesn’t feel like another man would feel,’ he said. ‘I’m totally different.’

 

Scientists teach bacterium a new trick for artificial photosynthesis


How to train your bacterium
The bacterium Moorella thermoacetica is being used to perform photosynthesis in a hybrid artificial photosynthesis system for converting sunlight into valuable chemical products.

Trainers of dogs, horses, and other animal performers take note: a bacterium named Moorella thermoacetica has been induced to perform only a single trick, but it’s a doozy. Berkeley Lab researchers are using M. thermoacetica to perform photosynthesis – despite being non-photosynthetic – and also to synthesize semiconductor nanoparticles in a hybrid artificial photosynthesis system for converting sunlight into valuable chemical products.

“We’ve demonstrated the first self-photosensitization of a non-photosynthetic bacterium, M. thermoacetica, with nanoparticles to produce from at efficiencies and yield that are comparable to or may even exceed the capabilities of natural ,” says Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, who led this work.

“The bacteria/inorganic-semiconductor hybrid artificial photosynthesis system we’ve created is self-replicating through the bio-precipitation of cadmium sulfide nanoparticles, which serve as the light harvester to sustain cellular metabolism,” Yang says. “Demonstrating this cyborgian ability to self-augment the functionality of biological systems through inorganic chemistry opens up the integration of biotic and abiotic components for the next generation of advanced solar-to-chemical conversion technologies.”

Yang, who also holds appointments with UC Berkeley and the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute (Kavli-ENSI) at Berkeley, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in Science. The paper is titled “Self-photosensitization of non-photosynthetic bacteria for solar-to-chemical production.” Co-authors are Kelsey Sakimoto and Andrew Barnabas Wong.

How to train your bacterium
Nanoscience expert Peidong Yang holds appointments with Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley and the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley. 

Photosynthesis is the process by which nature harvests sunlight and uses the solar energy to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Artificial versions of photosynthesis are being explored for the clean, green and sustainable production of chemical products now made from petroleum, primarily fuels and plastics. Yang and his research group have been at the forefront of developing artificial photosynthetic technologies that can realize the full potential of solar-to-chemical synthesis.

“In our latest study, we combined the highly efficient light harvesting of an inorganic semiconductor with the high specificity, low cost, and self-replication and self-repair of a biocatalyst,” Yang says. “By inducing the self-photosensitization of M. thermoacetica with cadmium sulfide nanoparticles, we enabled the photosynthesis of acetic acid from carbon dioxide over several days of light-dark cycles at relatively high quantum yields, demonstrating a self-replicating route toward solar-to-chemical carbon dioxide reduction.”

Cadmium sulfide is a well-studied semiconductor with a band structure and that is well-suited for photosynthesis. As both an “electrograph” (meaning it can undergo direct electron transfers from an electrode), and an “acetogen” (meaning it can direct nearly 90-percent of its photosynthetic products towards acetic acid), M. thermoacetica serves as the ideal model organism for demonstrating the capabilities of this hybrid system.

“Our hybrid system combines the best of both worlds: the light-harvesting capabilities of semiconductors with the catalytic power of biology,” Yang says. “In this study, we’ve demonstrated not only that biomaterials can be of sufficient quality to carry out useful photochemistry, but that in some ways they may be even more advantageous in biological applications.”

CRISPR gene editing tool used to treat genetic disease in an animal for the first time


It begins here.

For the first time, scientists have used CRISPR gene editing to successfully treat a genetic disease inside a fully developed living mammal. CRISPR editing is a process whereby scientists can effectively rewrite the genetic code of an organism by cutting out and replacing individual components of DNA.

In this study, researchers in the US used CRISPR to treat an adult mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, delivering the gene-editing system directly to affected tissues by way of a non-pathogenic virus called adeno-associated virus, or AAV.

“Recent discussion about using CRISPR to correct genetic mutations in human embryos has rightfully generated considerable concern regarding the ethical implications of such an approach,” said Charles Gersbach, a biomedical engineer at Duke University. “But using CRISPR to correct genetic mutations in the affected tissues of sick patients is not under debate. These studies show a path where that’s possible, but there’s still a considerable amount of work to do.”

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a rare form of muscular dystrophy that affects about one in 5,000 human males. The disease, caused by a genetic mutation, impairs the body’s ability to produce dystrophin, a protein chain that connects muscle fibre to surrounding tissue. Without the support of the protein, muscles in the body begin to deteriorate.

Most men affected by DMD are wheelchair-bound by the age of 10, and many do not live beyond their 20s or 30s.

While the researchers had previously used electrical jolts to deliver CRISPR in cultured cells, such an approach isn’t possible with a living patient. Fortunately, there are other means of getting in close.

“A major hurdle for gene editing is delivery. We know what genes need to be fixed for certain diseases, but getting the gene editing tools where they need to go is a huge challenge,” said Chris Nelson, one of the researchers. “The best way we have to do it right now is to take advantage of viruses, because they have spent billions of years evolving to figure out how to get their own viral genes into cells.”

To repurpose viruses as delivery vehicles for gene therapy, researchers take out any harmful or replicating genes in a virus and insert the therapeutic genes they want to apply to the patient’s tissue.

In this study, the researchers performed the technique on a mouse model with a debilitating mutation on one of the protein-coding regions (called exons) of the dystrophin gene, which render the gene unable to produce the protein.

The team programmed the CRISPR system to cut out this dysfunctional exon, which prompts the body’s natural repair system to stitch the remaining gene back together, creating a shortened, but now functional, version of the gene.

The researchers first experimented with the technique by delivering the therapy directly to a leg muscle in an adult mouse. Once they saw that the leg muscle had been restored in strength thanks to its new supply of functional dystrophin, they injected the CRISPR/AAV combination into the animal’s bloodstream. This resulted in partial dystrophin corrections in other muscles throughout the body, including the heart – which is significant, as heart failure is a common cause of death for patients with DMD.

While it’s early days, and there’s a long road ahead in getting this kind of approach to work on fixing genetic diseases in living people, the researchers involved believe their findings, which are reported in Science, will indeed help get us to that point.

“There is still a significant amount of work to do to translate this to a human therapy and demonstrate safety,” said Gersbach. “But these results coming from our first experiments are very exciting. From here, we’ll be optimising the delivery system, evaluating the approach in more severe models of DMD, and assessing efficiency and safety in larger animals with the eventual goal of getting into clinical trials.”

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/ZImVkl8QTW8

10 Significant Health Benefits of Green Tea


Tea is one of the oldest drinks (used for almost 50 centuries in Asia) and – after water – the most common beverage people enjoy the world over (Mandel et al. 2008). Native to China, it comes from the evergreen plantCamellia sinensis. A cup of tea contains numerous compounds in varying quantities: vitamins, polyphenols, caffeine, fluoride, sugars, amino acids, proteins, minerals, chlorophyll and others (Zhao et al. 2013). Which tea is produced (white, green, oolong or black) depends on the subsequent processing of harvested Camellia leaves. Teas can be classified as non-fermented (green and white teas), semi-fermented (oolong tea), and fermented (black tea).

green-tea-benefits

The health promoting effects of green tea are attributed to the rich antioxidant polyphenol content of its leaves (flavonols & catechins), making up c. 30% dry weight of a tea leaf, and exhibiting biochemical and pharmacological activities (Siddiqui et al. 2006). Recently, many of these beneficial effects were traced back to the most abundant catechin, EGCG (Wolfram 2007).

White tea differs from green tea by only using buds or first leaves. Green tea is rich in catechins. Black tea contains high levels of bisflavanol, theaflavin, and thearubigin, whereas white tea possesses large amounts of epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG, epicatechin, and methylxanthine (Zhao et al. 2013).

And just like a good wine, geographic location, soil and growing conditions play a role in tea quality, too. Tea leaves are heated and dried to inactivate enzymes, thus preserving constituents until we come along to make a brew by simply adding hot water.

The convenience of tea bags comes for the price of much reduced quality: tea bags usually contain shredded bits of tea hardly deserving the name. I generally avoid tea bags. Loose leaf tea just tastes so much better. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the leaf, the better and more tasty the tea. Tea bags either contain chemicals (epichlorohydrin) to prevent the paper from disintegrating in water, or are made from plastic including potentially harmful substances. Both are not the best choice. No need to ingest anything that doesn’t naturally belong in the body. Exercising that control whenever you have it makes not only sense, but also for a much healthier body.

Three billion kilograms of tea are grown and processed worldwide annually (Ohsaki Study 2006). People in about 30 countries are the main tea consumers. Green tea, specifically, is most commonly used in Asia (c. 20%), whereas Westerners prefer black tea (c. 78%).

So why go green?

Green tea is traditionally associated with various health benefits, and science, mostly since 1995, begins to confirm its beneficial effects on inflammation, arthritis, bacterial and viral growth inhibition, various cancers, eliminating toxins, the cardiovascular system, gums and teeth, the nervous system, and others. There are over 12.000 published (peer reviewed) articles on green tea. The search ‘green tea benefits’ on Web of Science returned 711 papers, a few of which form the basis of this article.

Tea variety and preparation method (at the growers and at home) also matter in bringing out the beneficial influence green tea bestows on our body (Shishikura & Khokhar 2005), as does bioavailability: we can ingest something, yet is it readily available to our cells in that form? If yes, it’s bioavailable, i.e. the body can use it straight away. If not, it may go right through without affecting anything. This is the reason why some supplements do not work – they are not presented in the right (bioavailable) form to the body. In green tea, bioavailability of catechins is directly proportional to the amount consumed (Reygaert 2014).

The following lists some of the benefits you may gain when regularly drinking green tea (multiple cups a day).

1. Decreasing cardiovascular mortality and risk of developing hypertension

Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that the habitual consumption of green tea inversely relates to cardiovascular mortality, mortality from stroke, the risk of developing diabetes and hypertension, and also to the percentage of body fat and its distribution (long-term tea drinkers are less obese) (Wolfram 2007).

A cohort study in over 40.000 Japanese adults found a reduced mortality rate from cardiovascular disease by 26% in green tea drinkers consuming 5 or more cups per day compared to those drinking 1 cup or less a day. Mortality from stroke was reduced by 37%. This study also found a positive dose/ response relationship: the more green tea people drank, the less likely they were to die from cardiovascular causes (Ohsaki Study 2006).

Epidemiological and intervention studies indicate that consumption of 5–6 or more cups of green tea, containing 200–300 mg EGCG, per day may be beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular and metabolic health (Wolfram 2007). EGCG in form of a supplement acutely improved endothelial function in people with coronary artery disease, and may account for a portion of the beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on endothelial function (Widlansky 2007). Five cups of tea consumed at 2h intervals elevated catechin plasma levels up to 12-fold (Sharma et al. 2007).

Cardiovascular benefits also include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and consumption of green tea has been shown to inhibit artherosclerosis, reduce body weight, blood and tissue lipid (fat) levels, and improve the ratio of LDL to HDL (Reygaert 2014, Vernarelli & Lambert 2012, Kao et al. 2006). Another study found people may substantially (65%) reduce their risk of developing hypertension by consuming 600+ml of green tea per day (Yang et al. 2004), and a more recent study (using green tea extracts) confirmed this effect (Cooper 2012).

2. Diabetes

Green tea helps control blood sugar levels and body fat burning properties in people with metabolic syndrome, a precursor of type 2 diabetes (Cooper 2012). Long-term tea intake (c. 30 years) seems associated with reduced levels of fasting blood glucose and type 2 diabetes (da Silva Pinto 2013).

3. Anti-inflammatory properties

A preliminary study into the benefit of habitual tea consumption in regards to markers of chronic inflammation concluded positively, even though the authors call for more long-term trials and research to back up their findings (De Bacquer et al. 2006). Among other conditions, inflammation occurs with arthritis, cardiovascular disease, aging, and cancer. One possible mode of action of green tea ingredients is the increased production of an anti-inflammatory molecule (cytokine IL-10) that helps heal inflammation (Reygaert 2014). Using green tea extract, another study showed decreased inflammation and LDL levels in participants (Cooper 2012).

4. Healthier gums and teeth

Green tea drinkers have healthier gums and teeth, thereby also decreasing the probability of tooth loss (Zhao et al. 2013). Zhao et al (2013) found that tea (green, white, oolong and black) inhibits growth and adherence ofPorphyromonas gingivalis, a key bacterial pathogen in chronic periodontitis. Active ingredients seem to damage bacterial membranes and prevent further growth. All teas tested showed similar results. Periodontal pocket depth decreases also when exposed to slow release catechins, hinting at the beneficial habit of drinking multiple cups of tea throughout the day, thus repeatedly exposing and bathing teeth in catechins (Sharma et al. 2007). In similar fashion, green tea also acts on Streptococcus mutans, a caries bacterium, by inhibiting its growth and adhesion to oral surfaces (Reygeart 2014).

5. Anticarcinogenic properties

Anticarcinogenic effects of green tea have been observed for various types of cancer (e.g. lung, breast, skin). Its rich antioxidant content makes green tea a tool for the management of colon and lung cancer, as well as urinary stones and dental caries (Sharma 2007 et al.). Mechanisms of action may include inhibiting angiogenesis (new blood vessel generation to a tumor), cell growth, inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells (Reygaert 2014), and down-regulation of genes (Siddiqui et al. 2006). For example, one study found that EGCG and other tea polyphenols inhibit lung cancer cells by arresting their cell cycle and thus stopping proliferation (Sharma 2007 et al.). Cell culture and animal studies indicate that green tea polyphenols constitute better chemopreventive agents than those present in black tea (Katiyar 2011), even though black tea, too, exhibits beneficial properties (Zhao et al. 2013).

While apparently no cancer preventive effects were found for esophagus lesions and stomach cancer (Del Rio et al. 2014, but see Cooper 2012 and Sharma et al. 2007), data from men with a precursor of prostate cancer looked promising: daily consumption of tea extract (200 mg flavan-3-ols) for one year resulted in 8x less tumor diagnoses in the tea drinking group vs the control group (even though the test group was rather small). Other good evidence for beneficial effects of green tea on prostate cancer comes from a case control study of 130 Chinese men with histologically confirmed adenocarcinoma. Jian et al. (2004) reported a significant dose-response relationship, where the frequency, duration and quantity of green tea consumption had a positive effect on patients. Finally, Siddiqui et al. (2006) found convincing evidence for oral infusions of green tea prohibiting prostate carcinogenesis in mice (amount is equivalent to 6 cups of tea for human consumption). They also studied human prostate cancer cell lines in vitro and showed a significant dose-dependent relationship: PSA levels decreased with increasing amounts of green tea EGCG (PSA, prostate specific antigen, is the most commonly used marker to estimate prostate pathology). While this is not yet a study of human subjects, these results are encouraging and also in line with above Chinese study. Teams researching the chemopreventive potential of green tea for breast and lung cancer cautiously concluded positively while suggesting further research to confirm their findings (Wu et al. 2003, Clark & You 2006). Thus, the potential of chemoprevention through green tea looks promising (Siddiqui et al. 2006, Katiyar 2011).

Green tea seems also beneficial in the context of skin UV radiation damage and cancer. Based on the information obtained in animal models, studies suggest that the regular consumption of 5–6 cups of green tea (1 g green tea leaves/150 ml water = 1 cup) per day may provide a similar photoprotective effect in humans. Therefore, regular consumption of green tea or green tea polyphenols may be considered an effective strategy for the prevention of inflammation-associated skin diseases, including UV irradiation-caused skin tumor development (Katiyar 2011). The same author recommends further investigating drinking green tea as a chemopreventive method of skin cancer in humans, and its possible use in the future practice of medicine.

Considering that Asian countries, home to most habitual green tea drinkers in the world, exhibit the lowest cancer incidences worldwide, it could well be that green tea forms part of the underlying cause for this observation (Siddiqui et al. 2006). Another intriguing discovery was that apparently the regular combination of green tea and chilli peppers during meals results in a lower incidence of all cancers when compared to a population drinking green tea only.

6. Antimicrobial properties: keeping bacteria and viruses in check

Antimicrobial effects of green tea are known from a variety of bacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli,Salmonella spp,Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus spp), some fungi (e.g. Candida albicans), and some viruses (HIV,Herpes simplex, Influenza) (Reygaert 2014). The inhibitory effect of active ingredients such as tea catechins is based on four possible modes of action in bacteria: breaking the cell wall or membranes, disrupting DNA synthesis, or interfering with protein synthesis. The antibacterial effect of green and black tea extracts were comparable to the effects of the antibiotics amoxicillin and cephadrine (Cooper 2012). Green tea and its extracts also exert synergistic effects in combination with antibiotics. They have been successfully used to inhibit otherwise resistant bacteria such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus) (Reygaert 2014).

Overall, results indicate a great potential of green tea as antimicrobial agent. The polyphenol content (particularly EGC) in one cup of Japanese green tea should impair bacterial growth for up to 6h or longer, according to calculations that each cup of such tea contains c. 3.5 mg active ingredient (ECG), and that most bacterial strains tested responded to a lower concentration of ?0.72 mg ECG (Reygaert 2014).

Interestingly, polyphenols may also act as promoting factors of growth, proliferation, or survival for beneficial gut bacteria (Chen & Sang 2014), as most tea components (including polyphenols) reach the colon, rather than remaining in the small intestine (Del Rio et al. 2014).

Catechin extracts from green tea exhibited strong antiviral properties on various strains of influenza virus, inhibiting virus replication and thus spread (Song et al. 2005).

cold-tea-recipe

7) Elevating mood and level of attention

Both green and black tea may also positively influence our attention and mood (Einoether & Martens 2013). A cup of tea is often associated with relaxation and feelings of refreshment and satisfaction, which can reflect in physiological responses such as heart rate. The tea catechin EGCG evoked a calming response where people felt less stressed after a dose of 300mg (Einoether & Martens 2013). Another study found a decrease in stress and improved task performance after drinking green and shaded white tea. It also mentioned increased human brain alpha activity after consumption of 50 mg theanine (see below), indicating improved performance under stress (Yoko et al. 2014).

There is also evidence for increased alertness and concentration after tea consumption, attributed to caffeine and theanine. Tea leaf caffeine content is 3-6% (Sharma et al. 2007).

Tea helps recover from stress, and a study of Japanese adults showed that a high level of green tea consumption (5+ cups) was related to lower psychological distress (Einoether & Martens 2013). A cohort study in Japanese elderly found a decreased prevalence of depressive symptoms in people who drank green tea more frequently (da Silva Pinto 2013). Contrary to longitudinal studies which look at long term benefits of tea drinking (e.g. weight control or neuroprotective benefits), effects on mood and attention are acute and occur within a few minutes or hours after tea consumption (Einoether & Martens 2013). This was also demonstrated by the first “tea MRI” study in 2012 (Bogwardt et al.), where green tea consumption increased activation in the DLPFC brain region (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or forehead, a key brain region for memory processing).

While most studies focus on catechins as active ingredients and effectors of physiological changes, green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It has been shown to directly influence the brain by evoking an alpha state of relaxed alertness. L-theanine possesses neuroprotective, mood enhancing and relaxation properties and may cause anti-stress effects by inhibiting cortical neuron excitation. One paper concluded that L-theanine augmentation of antipsychotic therapy can ameliorate anxiety symptoms in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder patients and calls for long-term studies of L-theanine to substantiate the clinically significant benefits of L-theanine (Ritsner et al. 2011, Cooper 2012).

8) Neuroprotective properties

Animal data and human epidemiological evidence suggest that tea consumption inversely correlates with incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease (Mandel et al. 2008). For example, L-theanine intake improves the shortened lifespan, cognitive dysfunction and behavioral depression that are induced by chronic psychosocial stress in mice (da Silva Pinto 2013).

9) Detoxification

The chelation properties of tea may protect the body against toxicity from heavy metals(Siddiqui et al. 2006), easing their excretion.

10) Fortifying the Immune System

Green tea also improves blood flow in smokers, increases antioxidant capacity, decreases plasma peroxides, and reduces oxidative damage and glutathione peroxidase activity in lymphocytes (white blood cells) (Wolfram 2007). In other words, it boosts immune function by enhancing positive molecules (antioxidants) and reducing stressors (peroxides).

Other authors observed a decrease in incidence of cold and flu in people taking tea extracts containing L-theanine and catechins (da Silva Pinto 2013).

Green Tea properties

Last thoughts on research findings

While authors largely report beneficial effects, some also found no effects. Discrepancies in research question, results, and interpretation exist, making comparison of study results difficult. Scientists take care to err on the conservative side, rather than promising their audience too much. Hence, a lot of sound studies conclude carefully in the positive, calling for more research to confirm their findings – a standard approach in scientific discourse. A major difficulty with any study looking into the benefits of a food or drink is to control for confounding factors, as people’s life styles vary considerably, within and between cultures. So to attribute any effects to tea consumption alone is rather tricky and challenging for study design and interpretation. Some of the studies cited here managed to consider these factors rather well (e.g. Ohsaki Study 2006), thus offering valuable information on green tea and its effects. All up, positive evidence for the benefits of drinking green tea seems to far outweigh counter-indicative literature. Few studies report potentially negative effects (Jain et al. 2013). One parameter that belongs here is tea as possible source of fluoride, pesticides and heavy metals (Sang et al. 2011, Clark & You 2006). Note that these aren’t necessarily intrinsic to the plant, but substances plants may take up from the environment they grow in. Hence, if you choose organic sources, the influence of these factors should automatically decrease. And a pristine growing environment least likely carries high levels of contaminants for tea plants to take up and accumulate. Shopping organic and reading labels definitely pays. =)

How to serve and enjoy the perfect cup

If you have never experienced a tea ceremony, I can only recommend participating in one. It’s a beautiful celebration of an awesome beverage, bringing out its rich flavor through multiple brews which all taste different.

For the more practical home use, my grandma had it right: her tea was always delicious. Here’s her method:

  • fill tea pot and cups with warm water
  • bring water to a short boil
  • let cool for 5 minutes
  • discard water from tea pot and fill with tea leaves: 1tsp per cup; for 5+ cups, add another tsp ‘for the pot’
  • add hot water
  • let steep: 2-3 mins: mild aroma, invigorating effect; 3-8 mins: strong aroma, calming effect
  • discard water from cups
  • pour tea into cups and enjoy
  • for subsequent infusions, leave tea in pot and add more water (no reboiling required; let steep for 2 mins, as leaves already soaked)

Enjoy your freshly brewed green tea!

Perhaps this article spurred curiosity for a new healthy living habit in your life. No matter who you read, authors point in the same direction: drinking 5+ cups a day does the trick. Begin swapping that coffee for green tea, perhaps….? Do not give up on green tea before trying a cup of “the real thing” from Asia – it’s soooo delicious!

Why too much evidence can be a bad thing


too much evidence
In a police line-up, the probability that an individual is guilty increases with the first three witnesses who unanimously identify him or her, but then decreases with additional unanimous witness identifications. Different colored lines represent various failure/error rates, with yellow representing zero failure.

Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted. This reasoning sounds counterintuitive, but the legislators of the time had noticed that unanimous agreement often indicates the presence of systemic error in the judicial process, even if the exact nature of the error is yet to be discovered. They intuitively reasoned that when something seems too good to be true, most likely a mistake was made.

In a new paper to be published in The Proceedings of The Royal Society A, a team of researchers, Lachlan J. Gunn, et al., from Australia and France has further investigated this idea, which they call the “paradox of unanimity.”

“If many independent witnesses unanimously testify to the identity of a suspect of a crime, we assume they cannot all be wrong,” coauthor Derek Abbott, a physicist and electronic engineer at The University of Adelaide, Australia, told Phys.org. “Unanimity is often assumed to be reliable. However, it turns out that the probability of a large number of people all agreeing is small, so our confidence in unanimity is ill-founded. This ‘paradox of unanimity’ shows that often we are far less certain than we think.”

Unlikely agreement

The researchers demonstrated the paradox in the case of a modern-day police line-up, in which witnesses try to identify the suspect out of a line-up of several people. The researchers showed that, as the group of unanimously agreeing witnesses increases, the chance of them being correct decreases until it is no better than a random guess.

In police line-ups, the systemic error may be any kind of bias, such as how the line-up is presented to the witnesses or a personal bias held by the witnesses themselves. Importantly, the researchers showed that even a tiny bit of bias can have a very large impact on the results overall. Specifically, they show that when only 1% of the line-ups exhibit a bias toward a particular suspect, the probability that the witnesses are correct begins to decrease after only three unanimous identifications. Counterintuitively, if one of the many witnesses were to identify a different suspect, then the probability that the other witnesses were correct would substantially increase.

The mathematical reason for why this happens is found using Bayesian analysis, which can be understood in a simplistic way by looking at a biased coin. If a biased coin is designed to land on heads 55% of the time, then you would be able to tell after recording enough coin tosses that heads comes up more often than tails. The results would not indicate that the laws of probability for a binary system have changed, but that this particular system has failed. In a similar way, getting a large group of unanimous witnesses is so unlikely, according to the laws of probability, that it’s more likely that the system is unreliable.

The researchers say that this paradox crops up more often than we might think. Large, unanimous agreement does remain a good thing in certain cases, but only when there is zero or near-zero bias. Abbott gives an example in which witnesses must identify an apple in a line-up of bananas—a task that is so easy, it is nearly impossible to get wrong, and therefore large, unanimous agreement becomes much more likely.

On the other hand, a criminal line-up is much more complicated than one with an apple among bananas. Experiments with simulated crimes have shown misidentification rates as high as 48% in cases where the witnesses see the perpetrator only briefly as he runs away from a crime scene. In these situations, it would be highly unlikely to find large, unanimous agreement. But in a situation where the witnesses had each been independently held hostage by the perpetrator at gunpoint for a month, the misidentification rate would be much lower than 48%, and so the magnitude of the effect would likely be closer to that of the banana line-up than the one with briefly seen criminals.

Wide implications

The paradox of unanimity has many other applications beyond the legal arena. One important one that the researchers discuss in their paper is cryptography. Data is often encrypted by verifying that some gigantic number provided by an adversary is prime or composite. One way to do this is to repeat a probabilistic test called the Rabin-Miller test until the probability that it mistakes a composite as prime is extremely low: a probability of 2-128 is typically considered acceptable.

The systemic failure that occurs in this situation is computer failure. Most people never consider the possibility that a stray cosmic ray may flip a bit that in turn causes the test to accept a composite number as a prime. After all, the probability for such an event occurring is extremely low, approximately 10-13 per month. But the important thing is that it’s greater than 2-128, so even though the failure rate is so tiny, it dominates over the desired level of security. Consequently, the cryptographic protocol may appear to be more secure than it really is, since test results that appear to indicate a high level of security are actually much more likely to be indicative of computer failure. In order to truly achieve the desirable level of security, the researchers advise that these “hidden” errors must be reduced to as close to zero as possible.

The paradox of unanimity may be counterintuitive, but the researchers explain that it makes sense once we have complete information at our disposal.

“As with most ‘paradoxes,’ it is not that our intuition is necessarily bad, but that our intuition has been badly informed,” Abbott said. “In these cases, we are surprised because we simply aren’t generally aware that identification rates by witnesses are in fact so poor, and we aren’t aware that bit error rates in computers are significant when it comes to cryptography.”

The researchers noted that the paradox of unanimity is related to the Duhem-Quine hypothesis, which states that it is not possible to test a scientific hypothesis in isolation, but rather hypotheses are always tested as a group. For instance, an experiment tests not only a certain phenomenon, but also the correction function of the experimental tools. In the paradox of unanimity, it’s the methods (the “auxiliary hypotheses”) that fail, and in turn reduce confidence in the main results.

More examples

Other areas where the paradox of unanimity emerges are numerous and diverse. Abbott describes several below, in his own words:

1) The recent Volkswagen scandal is a good example. The company fraudulently programmed a computer chip to run the engine in a mode that minimized diesel fuel emissions during emission tests. But in reality, the emissions did not meet standards when the cars were running on the road. The low emissions were too consistent and ‘too good to be true.’ The emissions team that outed Volkswagen initially got suspicious when they found that emissions were almost at the same level whether a car was new or five years old! The consistency betrayed the systemic bias introduced by the nefarious computer chip.

2) A famous case where overwhelming evidence was ‘too good to be true’ occurred in the 1993-2008 period. Police in Europe found the same female DNA in about 15 crime scenes across France, Germany, and Austria. This mysterious killer was dubbed the Phantom of Heilbronn and the police never found her. The DNA evidence was consistent and overwhelming, yet it was wrong. It turned out to be a systemic error. The cotton swabs used to collect the DNA samples were accidentally contaminated, by the same lady, in the factory that made the swabs.

3) When a government wins an election, one laments that the party of one’s choice often wins with a relatively small margin. We often wish for our favored political party to win with unanimous votes. However, should that ever happen we would be led to suspect a systemic bias caused by vote rigging. An urban legend persists that Putin won 140% (!) of the votes; if this true then democracy clearly failed in that case. The take-home message is that, in a healthy democracy, when a party wins by a small margin, instead of name-calling the ‘dumb’ voters of the opposition, we should be celebrating the fact that the opposing voters preserved the integrity of democracy.

4) In science, theory and experiment go hand in hand and must support each other. In every experiment there is always ‘noise,’ and we must therefore expect some error. In the history of science there are a number of famous experiments where the results were ‘too good to be true.’ There are many examples that have been mired in controversy over the years, and the most famous are Millikan’s oil drop experiment for determining the charge on the electron and Mendel’s plant breeding experiments. If results are too clean and do not contain expected noise and outliers, then we can be led to suspect a form of confirmation bias introduced by an experimenter who cherry-picks the data.

5) In many committee meetings, in today’s big organizations, there is a trend towards the idea that decisions must be unanimous. For example, a committee that ranks job applicants or evaluates key performance indicators (KPIs) often will argue until everyone in the room is in agreement. If one or two members are in disagreement, there is a tendency for the rest of the committee to win them over before moving on. A take-home message of our analysis is that the dissenting voice should be welcomed. A wise committee should accept that difference of opinion and simply record there was a disagreement. The recording of the disagreement is not a negative, but a positive that demonstrates that a systemic bias is less likely.

6) Eugene Wigner once coined the phrase ‘the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’ to describe the rather odd feeling that math seems to be so perfectly suited to describing physical theories. In a way, Wigner was expressing the idea that math itself is ‘too good to be true.’ (See this article for more on this idea.) The reality is that modern devices and machines are no longer analyzed by neat analytical mathematical equations, but by empirical formulas embedded in simulation software tools. For some of the next big science questions, particularly in the area of complex systems, we are looking to big data and machine learning rather than math. Analytical math as we knew it was not the perfect glove that could fit every type of problem. So how did we get seduced to once thinking that math was ‘unreasonably effective’? It’s the systemic confirmation bias introduced by the fact that for every great scientific paper we read with an elegant formula, there are many more rejected formulas that are never published and we never get to see. The math we have today was cherry-picked.

Monsanto Going to Trial for Crimes Against Humanity


monsanto corp

In the Hague, Netherlands, International Criminal Court

Several activist groups joined by food and farming experts are suing Monsanto for their crimes against humanity. [1]

Finally, Monsanto, the US-based, transnational company responsible for introducing multiple genetically modified crops and numerous toxic chemicals into our environment – including saccharin, aspartame, polystyrene, DDT, dioxin, Agent Orange, petroleum based fertilizers, recombinant bovine growth hormones (rGBH), Round Up (glyphosate), Lasso (an herbicide used in Europe), Bt toxic plants, and more – will have to answer to the world for its reign of terror. Monsanto has acted with severe negligence, and the hubris and supremacy of a corporation given personhood, but no longer.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, along with dozens of global food, farming, and environmental justice groups announced at the United Nations conference held recently in Paris that an international court of lawyers and judges will assess Monsanto’s criminal liability for their atrocious acts.

The court, in The Hague, Netherlands, will use the UN’s ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ developed in 2011 to assess damages for Monsanto’s acts against human life and the environment.

The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense.

This International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.

Speaking at the press conference, Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA (US) and Via Organica (Mexico), and member of the RI Steering Committee, said:

“The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment. . . Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate-stabilizing, carbon-sink capacity of the Earth’s living soil.”