Cannabis Could Increase Men’s Sperm Count


Cannabis Could Increase Men's Sperm Count

 

Men who have smoked marijuana at some point in their life had significantly higher concentrations of sperm when compared with men who have never smoked marijuana, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study, conducted in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, also found that there was no significant difference in sperm concentrations between current and former marijuana smokers.

“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general,” said Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School. “Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use.”

The study will be published on February 5, 2019 in Human Reproduction.

It is estimated that 16.5 percent of adults in the US use marijuana, and support for legal recreational use of marijuana has increased dramatically in recent years. Understanding the health effects associated with marijuana use is important given the growing perception that it poses few health hazards.

The researchers hypothesized that marijuana smoking would be associated with worse semen quality. Previous studies on marijuana have suggested that it is associated with negative effects on male reproductive health, but most of those studies had focused on animal models or on men with histories of drug abuse.

For this study, researchers collected 1,143 semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017. On average, the men were 36 years old, and most were white and college educated. Additionally, 317 of the participants provided blood samples that were analyzed for reproductive hormones. To gather information on marijuana use among study participants, researchers used a self-reported questionnaire that asked the men a number of questions about their usage, including if they had ever smoked more than two joints or the equivalent amount of marijuana in their life and if they were current marijuana smokers.

Among the participants, 365, or 55 percent, reported having smoked marijuana at some point. Of those, 44 percent said they were past marijuana smokers and 11 percent classified themselves as current smokers.

Analysis of the semen samples showed that men who had smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate while men who had never smoked marijuana had average concentrations of 45.4 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate. Only 5 percent of marijuana smokers had sperm concentrations below 15 million/mL (the World Health Organization’s threshold for “normal” levels) compared with 12 percent of men who had never smoked marijuana.

The study also found that among marijuana smokers, greater use was associated with higher serum testosterone levels.

The researchers cautioned that there are several potential limitations to the findings, including that participants may have underreported marijuana use given its status as an illegal drug for most of the study period. The researchers emphasized that they do not know to what extent these findings may apply to men in the general population as the study population consisted of subfertile men in couples seeking treatment at a fertility center. Additionally, they noted that there are few similar studies to compare their results against.

“Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized. However, they are consistent with two different interpretations, the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production because of its effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, but those benefits are lost with higher levels of marijuana consumption,” said Feiby Nassan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Chan School. “An equally plausible interpretation is that our findings could reflect the fact that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors, including smoking marijuana.”

Advertisements

Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects


Image: Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects

What if you could replace all the pills in your medicine cabinet with just one herb? Depending on what you take and why, that may be possible with turmeric. Its main component, curcumin, boasts enough health-enhancing properties to keep pharmaceutical execs up at night.

In fact, this herb is so powerful that it has been at the heart of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed biomedical studies. Researchers have found more than 800 different therapeutic and preventive uses for curcumin. Here is a look at just a few of the drugs to which it compares favorably, as outlined by Green Med Info.

Metformin (for diabetes)

Diabetes numbers continue to climb as Americans grapple with obesity, and that means more and more people are taking Metformin – and taking on its scary risks as well. However, a study in the journal Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Community found that curcumin has value in treating diabetes; it is between 500 and 100,000 times more powerful than Metformin when it comes to activating AMPK, which raises glucose uptake. Studies have also shown that it has a 100 percent efficacy rate in preventing those with pre-diabetes from developing full-fledged diabetes.

Lipitor (for cholesterol)

A 2008 study revealed that curcumin compares favorably to atorvastatin, which you may know as Lipitor, when it comes to dealing with the endothelial dysfunction behind atherosclerosis while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Other studies have shown that it can impact triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. While most of the studies so far have been done in animals, it is believed that it could have the same effect in humans, although the right levels have yet to be established.

The power of the elements: Discover Colloidal Silver Mouthwash with quality, natural ingredients like Sangre de Drago sap, black walnut hulls, menthol crystals and more. Zero artificial sweeteners, colors or alcohol. Learn more at the Health Ranger Store and help support this news site.

Prozac (for depression)

A study in 2011 found that curcumin compares favorably to the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and imipramine when it comes decreasing depressive behavior. Best of all, it doesn’t carry the serious side effects that Prozac does, which include sleep problems, tremors, headaches, nausea, a lower sex drive, and suicidal ideation. In addition, it’s well-tolerated by patients.

Researchers believe it works on depression by inhibiting monoamine oxidase, the enzyme that has been linked to depression when it’s present in high amounts in the brain. It also raises levels of calmness-inducing serotonin and dopamine.

Oxaliplatin (for chemotherapy)

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer looked at curcumin’s effects in stopping colorectal cell lines from proliferating. The researchers discovered the herb compared favorably to the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin. Other studies are underway exploring the impact curcumin has on various types of cancer after animal studies showed it could help prevent illnesses like skin, stomach and colon cancer in rats.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Curcumin is also great for inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic illnesses today such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, degenerative diseases, and heart disease. A study published in Oncogene identified it as an effective alternative to drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen given its strong anti-inflammatory effects, fighting inflammation at the molecular level. Meanwhile, in a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin worked even better than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Curcumin is so effective at addressing such a vast array of conditions that it’s hard to discuss it without sounding like you’re exaggerating. However, turmeric is truly “food gold” and it’s something well worth making a conscious effort to consume more of. You might not be ready to clean out your entire medicine cabinet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start adding this spice to your food. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, soups, salads, stews, and smoothies; consuming turmeric with fats is ideal, and make sure you add a pinch of pepper to boost its bioavailability.

Sources for this article include:

GreenMedInfo.com

NaturalNews.com

VeryWellHealth.com

Understanding the many benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment


Image: Understanding the many benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis is both devastating and terrifying. Patients are almost always directed towards conventional cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and are made to feel that any other, more “natural” treatments are not only ineffective but dangerous.

The truth is, however, that mainstream cancer treatments wreak havoc on the body, leaving it defenseless against disease and breaking it down at the exact time when it needs to be as strong as possible. With its less than impressive success rate of between 2 and 4 percent, along with its devastating effects on the body, it is unsurprising that three out of every four doctors say they would refuse chemotherapy as a treatment option if they themselves became ill.

While doctors like to promote the idea that there are no treatments scientifically proven to work besides the usual surgery/chemotherapy/radiation regimen, the truth is there is a strong body of evidence that many natural, non-invasive treatments are effective in the fight against cancer. One of the most well-researched and solidly proven of all these natural medicines is cannabis.

The miraculous power of cannabinoids

As noted by Dr. Mark Sircus, writing for Green Med Info, there is no confusion about whether marijuana is an effective cancer treatment. Cannabis has been scientifically proven to kill cancer cells without the devastating and body weakening effects of conventional cancer treatments.

The marijuana plant contains about 113 powerful chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The most well-known of these compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical that induces marijuana’s “high” – and cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive compound which has been extensively studied as a cure for many diseases.

The power of the elements: Discover Colloidal Silver Mouthwash with quality, natural ingredients like Sangre de Drago sap, black walnut hulls, menthol crystals and more. Zero artificial sweeteners, colors or alcohol. Learn more at the Health Ranger Store and help support this news site.

These and other cannabinoids are what make marijuana such a potent anti-cancer treatment, as reported by Green Med Info:

Cannabinoids are found to exert their anti-cancer effects in a number of ways and in a variety of tissues.

  • Triggering cell death, through a mechanism called apoptosis
  • Stopping cells from dividing
  • Preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumors
  • Reducing the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body, by stopping cells from moving or invading neighboring tissue
  • Speeding up the cell’s internal ‘waste disposal machine’ – a process known as autophagy – which can lead to cell death

All these effects are thought to be caused by cannabinoids locking onto the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Almost daily we are seeing new or confirming evidence that Cannibinoids can be used to great benefit in cancer treatment of many types.

https://www.brighteon.com/embed/5849729304001

What the science says

Scientific studies published in a host of peer-reviewed journals have confirmed marijuana’s powerful ability to fight breast, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and other cancers.

A meta-analysis of over 100 published studies, performed by researchers from Germany’s Rostock University Medical Centre, concluded that cannabis both boosts immunity and fights cancer.

The Daily Mail reported:

Scientists are calling for more studies to be done on humans after studying the cancer-fighting effects of chemicals in the drug.

Studies suggest chemicals called phytocannabinoids could stop cancer cells multiplying and spreading, block the blood supply to tumors, and reduce cancer’s ability to survive chemotherapy. …

The new research review admits cannabis has ‘anti-cancer effects’ and says more research needs to be done in real patients to confirm the findings.

It takes real courage to receive a cancer diagnosis and decide not to follow mainstream advice but seek alternative treatments. But even for those who choose to receive conventional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, cannabis can still be an important part of their overall wellness plan. As Dr. Sircus admonishes, “Every cancer patient and every oncologist should put medical marijuana on their treatment maps.”

Boost Brain Function and Blood Flow With This ‘Fruit’ Extract


Boost Your Memory With This Sweet and Refreshing Treat

Research confirms the power of a simple dietary change in improving memory problems in middle-aged and older adults.

In a study titled, “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints,” thirty-two subjects with self-reported memory complaints were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for 4 weeks, receiving memory testing, functional MRI scans (fMRI), and blood draws for peripheral biomarkers before and after the intervention.

After 4 weeks, only the pomegranate group showed significant improvement in verbal memory scores and plasma antioxidant levels.  Furthermore, compared to placebo, the pomegranate group showed increased fMRI activity during verbal and memory tasks, indicating pomegranate juice consumption results in increased blood flow to critical task-related brain regions.

This is not the first study to identify a brain-beneficial effect to pomegranate juice, as a sizable body of animal research already exists demonstrating it has neuroprotective properties against aluminum-,[1] stroke-,[2] [3] and glucose deprivation-associated neurotoxicity,[4] and may also inhibit the formation of pathological plaques and the over-excitation of microglial cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease.[5] [6] [7]

Pomegranate, in fact, is capable of unclogging and tonifying the cardiovascular system, which is especially important when it comes to brain health, and so-called vascular dementia. In fact, in a previous article titled,  “How To Clean Your Arteries with One Simple Fruit,” I report on the ability of pomegranate juice to regress blockages within the carotid arteries of patients.  

There is also its well-known age-defying ability to prevent adverse changes associated with the exhaustion of ovarian function.  In a previous article, “Amazing Fact: Pomegranate Can Function as a Back-up Ovary,” we looked at animal research explaining how this legendary food, traditionally linked with regeneration and immortality, may provide an alternative to bioidenticial and synthetic hormone replacement therapies.

As the research community continues to explore the potential role of so-called ‘medicinal foods’ in improving quality of life and preventing and/or treating diseases that are largely refractory to conventional drug-based interventions, we can rest assured that pomegranate will continue to play a central role in the rediscovery of food as medicine.

While much of the research is preliminary, an increasingly robust body of human clinical research indicates that pomegranate has a wide range of potential health benefits, including:

  • Improve Pregnancy/Birth Outcomes: Pomegranate juice has been found to potentially protect the unborn fetus by reducing oxidative stress in the placenta.[8]
  • Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pomegranate juice reduces disease activity and oxidative stress in rheumatoid patients.[9]
  • Improve Heart Disease: Pomegranate juice has been found to have anti-atherogenic properties by reducing oxidative stress, including LDL cholesterol oxidation.[10]
  • Fights Prostate Cancer: Pomegranate juice has been found to prolong prostate doubling, as well as inhibit the proliferation and increase programmed cell death in the prostates of men with prostate cancer.[11]
  • Contributes to Weight Loss: Pomegranate juice was found to contribute to a reduction in weight, without decreasing insulin sensitivity like other commonly used sources of ‘sugar.’[12]

For additional research on pomegranate’s wide range of health benefits, visit our pomegranate research page: Pomegranate Health Benefits, wherein you will find primary literature study abstracts on its value in over 100 potential health conditions.


References

[1] Ahmed E Abdel Moneim. Evaluating the potential role of pomegranate peel in aluminum-induced oxidative stress and histopathological alterations in brain of female rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Dec ;150(1-3):328-36. Epub 2012 Sep 5. PMID: 22945624

[2] David J Loren, Navindra P Seeram, Risa N Schulman, David M Holtzman. Maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective in an animal model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Pediatr Res. 2005 Jun ;57(6):858-64. Epub 2005 Mar 17. PMID: 15774834

[3] Tim West, Madeliene Atzeva, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate polyphenols and resveratrol protect the neonatal brain against hypoxic-ischemic injury. Dev Neurosci. 2007 ;29(4-5):363-72. PMID: 17762204

[4] Fatemeh Forouzanfar, Amir Afkhami Goli, Elham Asadpour, Ahmad Ghorbani, Hamid Reza Sadeghnia. Protective Effect of Punica granatum L. against Serum/Glucose Deprivation-Induced PC12 Cells Injury. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013 ;2013:716730. Epub 2013 Jul 7. PMID: 23935674

[5] Richard E Hartman, Aartie Shah, Anne M Fagan, Katherine E Schwetye, Maia Parsadanian, Risa N Schulman, Mary Beth Finn, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Dec ;24(3):506-15. Epub 2006 Sep 28. PMID: 17010630

[6] Soo Jung Choi, Ju-Hyun Lee, Ho Jin Heo, Hong Yon Cho, Hye Kyung Kim, Chang-Ju Kim, Myeong Ok Kim, Soo Hwan Suh, Dong-Hoon Shin. Punica granatum protects against oxidative stress in PC12 cells and oxidative stress-induced Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. J Med Food. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):695-701. Epub 2011 Jun 1. PMID: 21631359

[7] Lalida Rojanathammanee, Kendra L Puig, Colin K Combs. Pomegranate polyphenols and extract inhibit nuclear factor of activated T-cell activity and microglial activation in vitro and in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer disease. J Nutr. 2013 May ;143(5):597-605. Epub 2013 Mar 6. PMID: 23468550

[8] Baosheng Chen, Methodius G Tuuli, Mark S Longtine, Joong Sik Shin, Russell Lawrence, Terrie Inder, D Michael Nelson. Pomegranate juice and punicalagin attenuate oxidative stress and apoptosis in human placenta and in human placental trophoblasts. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Feb 28. Epub 2012 Feb 28. PMID: 22374759

[9] Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, Bianca Fuhrman, Yolanda Braun-Moscovici, Doron Markovits, Michael Aviram. Consumption of pomegranate decreases serum oxidative stress and reduces disease activity in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study. Isr Med Assoc J. 2011 Aug ;13(8):474-9. PMID: 21910371

[10] M Aviram, L Dornfeld, M Rosenblat, N Volkova, M Kaplan, R Coleman, T Hayek, D Presser, B Fuhrman. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May ;71(5):1062-76. PMID: 10799367

[11] Allan J Pantuck, John T Leppert, Nazy Zomorodian, William Aronson, Jenny Hong, R James Barnard, Navindra Seeram, Harley Liker, Hejing Wang, Robert Elashoff, David Heber, Michael Aviram, Louis Ignarro, Arie Belldegrun. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Feb;14(1):39-44. Epub 2007 Mar 6. PMID: 16818701

[12] Manuel González-Ortiz, Esperanza Martínez-Abundis, María C Espinel-Bermúdez, Karina G Pérez-Rubio. Effect of pomegranate juice on insulin secretion and sensitivity in patients with obesity. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011 ;58(3):220-3. Epub 2011 Jul 28. PMID: 21811060

Bergamot Improves Schizophrenic Brain Function


Bergamot oranges are bitter fruits that grow in one of the world’s most beautiful coastal regions. Could the scenic ocean vistas be responsible for the calm, relaxing effects we derive from smelling and ingesting the bright, citrus essence of this amazing fruit?

A recent study aimed at developing new treatment strategies for cognitive dysfunctions like schizophrenia has hit upon promising potential for bergamot, the citrus extract best-known for flavoring Earl Grey tea. Cultivated exclusively on the coast in Southern Italy, the Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) yields a bitter fruit that possesses magical properties. The essential oils extracted from its thick rind are added to products as both a flavoring and a perfume, evidence that we can benefit from this natural wonder in many fruitful ways!

Medical science clearly acknowledges that extracts of bergamot have the power to protect human health. Currently, the GreenMedInfo search database has 112 scientific articles reflecting these potent abilities. Here are just a few of the proven health benefits of bergamot:

It is this intersection of mental health and potential uses for bergamot that our featured study explores. Non-pharmaceutical or otherwise novel approaches to treating schizophrenia are few, and in terms of medical research, far in-between. This study, performed by researchers from the Biomedical Department at the University of Messina in Italy, is a ray of hope for anyone dissatisfied with traditional pharmaceutical approaches. As you will see, bergamot shows great promise as a natural, health-supporting adjunct to preventing long-term disability in patients with schizophrenia.

Bergamot Boosts the Brain

Researchers studied twenty schizophrenic outpatients currently taking second-generation, also called atypical antipsychotics. Second-generation antipsychotics are a class of medication that are more recent in their development, as opposed to older, first-generation or typical antipsychotics. Both generations of medications function by blocking dopamine receptors, however atypical antipsychotics do not produce the motor-control disabilities that are frequently imparted by typical antipsychotics.

The outpatients were provided an oral supplement of 1000 mgs of “BPF,” bergamot polyphenolic fraction, in addition to their existing regimen of atypical antipsychotic meds. Participants were dosed daily for a total of 8 weeks and subjected to a battery of psychiatric, verbal fluency, and word-color association tests throughout the study period. Researchers were looking for the effect of BPF, if any, on cognitive/executive functioning in these patients.

At the study’s end-point after patients had received 8 weeks of BPF supplementation, psychiatric test results were analyzed. BPF had provided a measurable boost to scores: improvements were observed in tests of verbal fluency, and errors were significantly reduced on association tests. Moreover, an improvement trend was observed for other cognitive variables being measured. According to researchers, “The findings provide evidence that BPF administration may be proposed as a potential supplementation strategy to improve cognitive outcome in schizophrenia.”[1]

Bergamot’s Anxiolytic Effects

Mental health issues are increasingly being recognized as a public health crisis for which safe, cost-effective therapies are direly needed. Bergamot’s brain-enhancing power presents a unique opportunity for the development of nutraceutical treatments for several common mental health disorders.

Bergamot extract, made of highly concentrated polyphenolic compounds, possesses an invigorating, bright citrus essence that not only enhances cognitive function, it can also promote feelings of calmness and positivity. A 2017 pilot study using bergamot essential oil found that just 15 minutes of inhalation exposure improved participants’ positive feelings by nearly 20% over the control group. The study produced an additional, unexpected result: more individuals wanted to use the treatment over control (non-use), suggesting that even brief exposure to bergamot’s aroma may enhance a person’s willingness to participate in medical trials. Researchers considered these results to be solid preliminary evidence that bergamot aromatherapy can be an effective adjunct treatment to improve individuals’ mental health and well-being.

Other preclinical studies have reinforced that bergamot essential oil is “endowed with remarkable neurobiolological effects.”[2] It is believed that inhaling bergamot essence can affect synaptic transmissions, modulate electroencephalographic (EEG) brain activity, and imbue neuroprotective and analgesic properties. It’s use as aromatherapy is widely recognized to help minimize symptoms of anxiety and alleviate mild mood disorders, although hard clinical proof is still scant.

A 2017 animal trial added to the cumulative evidence by examining bergamot essential oil’s anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) effects on rats subjected to a forced swimming task. Results showed that the oil’s effects were calming, relaxing, and attenuated anxiety-like behavior in subjects in ways that the traditional anxiolytic drug, benzodiazepine diazepam, did not effect.[3]

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory

Bergamot’s mental health benefits may stem from potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2017 study mapped the flavanone profile of bergamot juice (the flavonoid responsible for the juice’s vivid, citrus aroma) and identified 16 unique compounds. A human study was then conducted to determine the bioavailability of each of these compounds when ingested. Up to 12 flavanones were detected in blood plasma and urine after consumption of bergamot juice, two of which were able to modulate inflammation in human tissues.

A 2014 animal study was conducted to determine if bergamot juice could be used to combat serious inflammatory diseases of the bowels, namely colitis and IBD, irritable bowel disease. Treatment with bergamot juice decreased the appearance of diarrhea and body weight loss in mice and reduced the flow of pro-inflammatory cytokines into the blood. It also reduced cellular damage in the colon and associated inflammation. Researchers concluded that the administration of bergamot juice created a health-supporting, anti-inflammatory response which may be beneficial for the treatment of IBD in humans.

Another animal study whose aim was to test the beneficial effects of bergamot juice on intestinal inflammation examined its use in cases of intestinal reperfusion or I/R injury. Reperfusion injury occurs when blood flow is halted to tissues, creating a period of lack of oxygen that results in inflammation and oxidative stress when blood flow returns to the area. Results demonstrated that bergamot juice was able to reduce the production of inflammatory markers, lower oxidative stress, and minimize overall damage to cells. The study concluded that bergamot juice could represent a new treatment option for the inflammatory events that occur during intestinal I/R injury.

This amazing anti-inflammatory effect is not limited to internal conditions. Bergamot extract was tested and found to efficiently block proinflammatory actions on human keratinocytes – skin cells containing keratin – giving rise to potential topical use in some inflammatory diseases of the skin.

Bergamot Levels Cholesterol

No article on bergamot would be complete without mentioning the eye-popping effects that have been observed on levelling out the human body’s cholesterol levels. Several recent human studies have proven that bergamot supplementation improves cholesterol metabolism via multiple pathways, including effectively lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

In early 2015, the results of a six-month-long prospective study on this subject were published in the journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology. The study’s objective was to identify if bergamot extract can be an effective, alternative therapeutic approach for managing dyslipidemia, a condition characterized by an abnormal level of cholesterol and other fats (lipids) in the blood.[4] Eighty test subjects with a median age of 55 years who were all diagnosed with moderate hypercholesterolemia were studied for a period of 6-months. Hypercholesterolemia is characterized by plasma LDL-cholesterol concentrations between 160 and 190 mg/dl, whereas normal levels are <129 mg/dl. Participants were given a 150 mg dose of Bergavit R® each day during the study.

After 6 months, results showed that Bergavit R® had reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol, while HDL-cholesterol increased. Researchers concluded that bergamot extract supplementation lowered cardio-metabolic risk factors in dyslipidemic patients, and significantly reduced plasma lipids and improved the overall lipoprotein profile. Cellular integrity. Measured by arterial wall thickness, was also improved in this relatively short timeframe.

As if mental health and heart health benefits were not enough, research has even attributed anti-aging benefits to this miraculous supplement! Other studies have concluded that bergamot extract can be an effective support for the 100-million U.S. adults living with diabetes.[5] Therapeutic effects include helping to prevent diabetes-related osteoporosis, supporting a healthy liver by combating diet-related non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and protecting sensitive nerve endings that can become frail due to side-effects of diabetes.

In addition to the 100+ abstracts on bergamot essence and extracts, explore GreenMedInfo’s research abstracts on bergamot oranges to learn more about their amazing potential health benefits.

Plant Hallucinogen Holds Hope for Diabetes Treatment


A potent molecular cocktail containing a compound from ayahuasca spurs rapid growth of insulin-producing cells

Plant Hallucinogen Holds Hope for Diabetes Treatment
Ayahuasca cooking.

For centuries, some indigenous groups in South America have relied on a brew made from the parts of a local vine and a shrub. The effects of this drink, called ayahuasca, would begin with severe vomiting and diarrhea, but the real reason for drinking the tea was the hallucinating that followed. These visions were thought to uncover the secrets of the drinker’s poor health and point the way to a cure.

Modern techniques have revealed that one of the compounds underlying these mystic experiences is the psychoactive drug harmine. What these first users of ayahuasca couldn’t have known was that, one day, this ingredient in their enlightening brew would be positioned as a key to treating diabetes.

Such a cure is a long way off, but researchers took another step toward it when they combined naturally occurring harmine with a compound synthesized from scratch in a lab. Together, the pair can coax the insulin-producing pancreatic cells, called beta cells, into replicating at the fastest rates ever reported, according to findings published December 20 in Cell Metabolism.

Type 1 diabetes arises when the body turns on these cells and destroys them. Type 2 diabetes develops when these same cells wear out and can no longer make insulin. Either effect is a point of no return because the beta cells we make in early life are the only ones we’ll ever have.

If this pair of compounds eventually inches into the treatment toolbox, refreshing a faded cell population could become a reality and a possible treatment for diabetes.  “Looking back 10 years or so, we questioned whether human beta cells could even be coaxed into dividing,’ says Justin Annes, assistant professor of medicine and endocrinology at Stanford University, who also works on beta cell proliferation, with a separate investigator group. “But what began as a fantasy has become aspiration, and perhaps in the coming years, will be a reality.”

One stop on the trip to that reality was a 2015 study showing that harmine treatment of beta cells in a dish promoted their increase at a rate of about 2 percent per day. A promising beginning, says study author Andrew Stewart, scientific director of the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, but a little too slow for someone who needs a replacement population.

In this newest study, Stewart and his colleagues show that combining harmine with a synthetic inhibitor of another molecule kicks up the rate to 5–8 percent on average, and as high as 18 percent using some growth recipes. The one–two punch of this chemical pair isn’t the only possible combination, and other groups also are working on various pairings, Stewart says. Annes and his colleagues have identified several compounds that hold similar promise for pushing insulin-producing cells to reproduce.

“Basically, we’re all competing, but we all know each other so we share reagents and ideas,” says Stewart. “Different people have identified different drugs that make beta cells replicate.” His lab chose harmine because it’s the one they pulled out of their screening of 100,000 compounds in 2015, but “I don’t think harmine is especially better than any other one,” he says.

In 2006, another group of researchers plucked harmine from a molecular haystack in a search for chemicals that interact with a protein associated with Down syndrome. Studies that followed showed harmine’s role in many body systems, including the gut and the brain, explaining in part the effects of ayahuasca on its earliest adopters.

Harmine interferes with an enzyme called dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 1A, or DYRK1A. Like harmine, DYRK1A operates in a host of tissues.  It helps, for one, in shaping the central nervous system during embryonic development. First identified because of its key involvement in Down syndrome, its routine duty is to add chemical tags to molecules to switch them on or off.

The other molecule in the synergizing pair is an inhibitor of a group of proteins in the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily (TGFβSF). As with DYRK1A, these proteins are active in a large number of body processes, including cell proliferation.

Stewart and his team homed in on TGFβSF and DYRK1A after probing the secrets of cells from benign pancreatic tumors called insulinomas. They reasoned that if they could pinpoint what made these tumors grow, they could co-opt that information to encourage growth of normal beta cells. Their exploration uncovered DYRK1A and TGFβSF-related targets.

Inhibiting these molecules in human beta cells in a dish shuts down the cell regulators that usually keep the brakes on cancer’s out-of-control cell growth. Because harmine and TGFβSF inhibitor release this brake and DYRK1A and TGFβSF are active in many tissues, any treatment involving the pair of inhibitors must be closely targeted. “Certainly, we have a long way to go before these medications can be used in humans,” says Annes, calling the concern about cancer risk “reasonable.”

Adding to that concern is that harmine affects other cell types, says Klaus Kaestner, professor of genetics and associate director of the Penn Diabetes Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. In 2016, his group reported that harmine triggers many types of hormone-producing cells to divide, including other cells in the pancreas.

Stewart and his colleagues are sorting through a number of potential chemical tags that might help guide the inhibitors to the right location. But for now, says Stewart, “we are Amazon and have a bunch of parcels, and we know that they’re for you, but we don’t know the address.”

Type 1 diabetes poses another hurdle. Although the immune system targets and destroys these cells in this form of diabetes, a small pool of beta cells often remains, Stewart says. What’s unknown is if a new population grown from these cells would simply attract further immune destruction. Stewart says that if the harmine-TGFβSF inhibitor combination ever makes it to trials, the population it might initially suit best are those who have type 2 diabetes. Then the journey from a South American rainforest to a clinical treatment would be complete.

Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen


Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage needs to be a regular in your kitchen

 

With its high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. As a cruciferous veggie, in the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, it also contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals that break down into indoles, sulforaphane and other cancer-preventive substances.

Different types of cabbage (red, green and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates, which suggests you should try to eat a variety of cabbage for the best health effects. Its variety is another one of cabbage’s pluses — it comes in hundreds of different types and is incredibly versatile. Eaten raw, cabbage is a mainstay of cole slaw and other summer salads. It’s also one of the most popular base vegetables for creating your own homemade sauerkraut.

 

Cooked lightly and quickly, cabbage also makes an excellent side dish to virtually any protein source and can be seasoned in a number of different ways depending on the type of cuisine. You may be tempted to rely on your local grocery store for cabbage, but growing your own is so much more rewarding, both in terms of freshness and flavor. What’s more, growing cabbage is incredibly easy, and if you time your planting right you can expect to harvest it during the summer as well as the late cold-weather season.

Choose the Right Varieties for the Growing Season

Cabbage is one of those vegetables that taste better after a frost. This is because as temperatures drop, the cold causes the plants to break down energy stores into sugar, leading to a sweeter, tastier flavor. Some types of cabbage can even be grown in temperatures as low as 26 degrees F.

Most winter veggies are planted in mid- to late summer so they are strong and ready for when the temperatures drop, and then ripe for harvest in winter or early spring. Timing this depends on how long each plant takes to reach maturity, however, and this is where choosing the proper varieties is key.

While some cabbage plants reach maturity in 90 days, early varieties take just 60 days to reach maturity. Further, you’ll probably want to plant a crop to harvest during the summer months, as well.

 

As Rodale’s Organic Life noted, “Cabbage thrives in cool weather. In most areas, you can plant an early crop for fresh eating and a late crop — usually the more problem free and tastier of the two — primarily for winter storage. Choose early varieties such as ‘Primax’ for summer harvest; midseason and late-season cultivars for storage.” Additional recommended varieties, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, include the following:

  • “If you are planting for a fall harvest, try red or Chinese cabbage. Good varieties include ‘Ruby Perfection’ and ‘Lei-Choy.’
  • For quick harvest time, try ‘Golden Acre,’ ‘Primo’ or ‘Stonehead.’
  • ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ resists splitting.
  • Disease-resistant varieties include ‘Blue Vantage’ and ‘Cheers.’”

Other considerations in cabbage variety include size, color and texture. With its variety of cool hues and ruffled and crinkled leaves, many people plant cabbage as much for its ornamental appeal as they do for its culinary uses. Some of the more popular varieties to consider include:

Savoy cabbage, which has dark green, crinkled outer leaves Red cabbage, which contains antioxidant anthocyanins that give it its purple color
Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, matures quickly and has a mild flavor Green cabbage, which comes in a variety of sizes with differing times to maturity
Pointed cabbage, which forms conical heads, helping to protect it from insects Mini cabbages, such as the “Gonzales” variety, which can be harvested when they’re 6 inches in diameter, making them ideal for small gardens

It’s Easy to Start Cabbage From Seed

While you can purchase cabbage plants at most garden centers, it’s easy to grow them yourself from seed. Start seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your last frost of the spring for summer harvests, and 12 to 14 weeks before your first fall frost for late varieties. “Place in a sunny spot or under lights with temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F, and keep the soil uniformly moist. When daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees F and seedlings have three leaves, plant them outdoors,” Rodale’s Organic Life recommends. In addition, they note:

“Plant seedlings in the garden slightly deeper than they grew in flats. Space 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Wide spacings produce bigger heads, but young, small cabbages are tastier. To get both, plant 6 inches apart and harvest every other one before maturity. Stagger plantings at 2-week intervals for a longer harvest. tart your late crop in midsummer, sowing seeds in flats or directly in the garden. Space these seedlings farther apart than the spring crop.”

As for seeds, look for non-GMO, organic seeds or consider saving seeds from your own crop. The latter may be a challenge, as cabbage produces seed in its second year (it’s a biennial crop). This means only areas with mild winters will allow the seedlings to survive through the winter and produce seeds come summer. An alternative is to transfer cabbage plants in a cool place for the purpose of harvesting seeds the next growing season, according to Mother Earth News:

“In colder climates, growers dig cabbage plants and move them to a cool root cellar for winter, burying the plants’ roots in buckets of moist sawdust. The stored heads are trimmed and replanted in early spring.”

Cabbage Planting Tips

A sunny, well-drained spot works best, and healthy soil will help your cabbage plants to thrive. Adding organic compost to your soil is recommended, as is a layer of mulch or wood chips to help lock in moisture. If your cabbage leaves start to yellow, adding compost tea, which is basically the liquid from compost steeped in water, to the soil as an extra feeding may boost plant growth and encourage faster maturation.

Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, meaning they deplete the soil of nutrients relatively quickly. Because of this, it’s best to plant them apart from other heavy feeders like broccoli and cauliflower. In addition, rotate crops each year to discourage diseases. Excess water (including heavy rain) can cause cabbages to split. If you notice a split starting, or expect a heavy rain to hit, use a spade to sever the plant’s roots in one or two spots, or twist the plant, pulling up slightly, to dislodge the roots.

Both methods will slow the plant’s growth, preventing splitting and bolting. If the cabbage does split, don’t worry — it can still be used to make sauerkraut. As for pests, many, including harlequin bugs, slugs, snails and cabbage worms can be removed by hand (be sure to check the undersides of leaves). Damage from cutworms can be prevented by placing a “collar” made from a plastic cup around young seedlings (push it down about 1 inch into the soil). Common diseases to watch out for include the following:

“Black leg, a fungal disease, forms dark spots on leaves and stems. Black rot symptoms include black and foul-smelling veins. Club root prevents water and nutrient absorption. Fusarium wilt, also known as yellows, produces yellow leaves and stunted heads. Remove and destroy plants affected by these diseases. If club root has been a problem in your garden, test soil pH before planting and add ground limestone if needed to raise the pH to at least 6.8.”

Simple Harvest Tips

When the cabbage head is firm to the touch, use a sharp knife to cut it from the stalk. Heads that don’t feel firm are not yet ready for harvest. Smaller cabbage heads will often grow from the stem, provided you leave the outer leaves and roots, so don’t pull it out of the ground yet. If you’re not interested in encouraging a second crop to grow, the loose outer leaves can be tossed into your compost pile or eaten — it’s up to you.

Once the harvest is complete, pull the stem and root from the ground and compost the remainders (as long as the plant is healthy; avoid throwing diseases plants into your compost bin). Store cabbage in your refrigerator for two weeks or in cold storage (32 degrees to 40 degrees F) for five or six months (the latter being perfect for your winter harvest).

If you’re wondering how much cabbage to grow, Mother Earth News recommends about three cabbage plants per person for enjoying fresh and four plants per person (in addition) for storing cabbage to make sauerkraut. Cabbage is best prepared as close to raw as possible, sometimes called tender-crisp, to preserve its many nutrients.

Cabbage can also be juiced and fermented, which will provide your body with healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria and, if certain starter cultures are used, vitamin K2.

Ready to Enjoy? Healthy Cabbage Crunch Salad

There are many reasons to give cabbage a regular appearance at your mealtimes. It contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers. Cabbage also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check.

Among them are anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol that, as mentioned, is particularly plentiful in red cabbage, although all types of cabbage contain anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Cabbage also contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1 and vitamin B5.

B vitamins are not only important for energy, they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

RELATED ARTICLE:

If you’re looking for a recipe to enjoy your cabbage raw that’s a bit different than typical cole slaw recipes, try this healthy Cabbage Crunch Recipe. With fresh ginger, miso paste and ground sesame, along with both red and green cabbage, it’s packed with both intense flavor and valuable nutrition.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 head white cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon gomasio (ground sesame with salt)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste* (optional)

Procedure

  1. Mix the cabbage with the chopped onions. Add cilantro and jalapeno.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend briefly. Mix into salad mix and serve.

4 times better than beets for increasing nitric oxide and lowering blood pressure


4 times better than beets for increasing nitric oxide and lowering blood pressure

By Dr. Mercola

While known as a salad green with a tangy, slightly peppery kick, arugula is actually a relative of the cruciferous family, which includes radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. Like other members of this family, arugula contains a number of medicinal nutrients, including cancer-fighting compounds and carotenoids known for their importance for good eyesight.

It’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Arugula also provides high levels of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).

Its flavonoid content helps improve blood vessel function, increase blood flow, lower blood pressure and lower inflammation. Arugula even has cleansing properties to counteract the poisoning effects of heavy metals in the system, particularly in the liver, and helps eliminate pesticides and herbicides from your body.

Arugula has long been considered an aphrodisiac, and modern science supports this notion, showing trace minerals and antioxidants help block absorption of environmental contaminants suspected of impacting your libido.

Arugula Is a Heart-Healthy Food

Arugula also contains about 480 milligrams (mg) of nitrates per 100-gram serving, which your body uses as raw material to make nitric oxide (NO), an important biological signaling molecule that supports normal endothelial function and protects your mitochondria.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Acting as a potent vasodilator, NO helps relax and widen the diameter of your blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow and oxygenation of your tissues. It also carries away waste material and carbon dioxide. A diet high in nitrate is a natural strategy recommended for the treatment of prehypertension and hypertension (high blood pressure), and helps protect against heart attacks.

Raw beets are perhaps the most well-known for their ability to lower blood pressure (thanks to their nitrate content), but arugula actually contains the highest levels of nitrates of any vegetable. For comparison, 100 grams of whole red beets provide a mere 110 mg of nitrates to arugula’s 480 mg.

How to Grow Arugula

Arugula is a cool season crop, and can be added to your fall garden plantings. It’s forgiving in that it can tolerate low-fertility soils and frost, and is really easy to care for, although it does best in humus-rich soils with a pH between 6 and 6.8. Seeds germinate best at temperatures between 40 and 55 degrees F. Plant your seeds directly into your garden bed, but avoid planting them in a spot where you just harvested another cabbage family crop.

As noted in the video above, there are two main types of arugula. Common arugula (Eruca sativa) is best for eating and cooking, as it produces large, lush growth, while the wild Italian arugula (Eruca selvatica) — which does have a bolder flavor — tends to be more stemmy. The Italian variety will also bolt faster.

Plant your seeds about one-fourth inch deep, 1 inch apart. Rows should be about 3 inches apart. Seedlings will sprout in about 10 to 14 days. Arugula will do well planted next to lettuce and peas. For a continuous harvest through the fall, plant new seeds every two weeks up until about four weeks before your first frost date. Dry, hot weather will speed bolting. If temperatures are still on the high side, you can slow bolting by providing shade and making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.

Addressing Pests

A common cabbage family pest is the flea beetle. Row covers can be used to protect tender seedlings. Another protective measure is to sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth around the seedlings. Diatomaceous earth is available at most garden centers. One drawback is that it will kill any soft-body insect, so in addition to fleas, it could also have a detrimental effect on worms and even bees. For this reason, it’s best to use it only when absolutely necessary.

Another alternative suggested in the video above is Reemay fabric. Used as a row cover, it allows about 75 percent of sunlight through, and is permeable enough to allow water through — but not the pests. Simply pin the fabric down so that it’s loosely covering the plants, allowing for growth.

Harvest — and Eat

Mature arugula is ready to harvest in about 40 days. “Graze” harvesting means selectively picking just a few leaves here and there to add to your cooking. The smaller the leaf, the milder its flavor will be. Alternatively, use a pair of garden shears to cut back about one-third of each plant, selecting the largest leaves in each bunch. The remainder will continue to regenerate and grow back.

Once the arugula starts to flower, it’ll start turning bitter. At this point, your best option is to pull the whole plant out by its roots. Salvage whatever leaves you still find edible and compost the rest. The arugula tends to bolt quickly, so keep an eye out for the telltale signs of flowers (shown in the video above), and harvest right away. Ideally, harvest at a time when it’s cooler and shadier, as the leaves will wilt quickly when cut in full sun.

Arugula is a popular salad green, but can be added to any number of dishes, such as sandwiches and hot or cold pesto, although it will lose some of its peppery punch when cooked. For a delicious side salad, try my grapefruit and arugula salad with avocado recipe.

How to Save the Seeds

Arugula seeds are easy to collect and save, and can be stored for up to five years. The plant will produce small, white flowers. Once flowers emerge, small seed pods will start to form along the stem. If you like, you can actually eat the seeds. They have a strong spicy kick, similar to a radish. Once the plant bolts, the leaves will turn bitter and begin to brown.

There are a number of ways to collect the seeds. Some will cover the stem with a nylon stocking to catch the seeds as the pods break open. Alternatively, clip the stem, tie a paper bag around it and hang upside down to dry.

To check if the seeds are ready to be collected, gently shake the seed pod. The seeds are ready when you hear them rattling around inside the pod. Eventually, the pods will break, releasing the seeds, or you can crush the pod if you like. To separate the seed from the chaff, Heirloom Organics suggests the following method:

“If your seeds are in a bag already, you can shake the bag or stick your hand in the bag and crumble the dried seed pods. You’ll end up with a pile of tiny dark seeds mixed in with papery seed pod chaff.

To separate this out, you can do it the old-fashioned way, which is to put everything in a shallow pan and blow the chaff off the top of the pile. The seeds weigh more than the chaff, so they will stay put. Another way is to put them in a sieve that has holes bigger than the seeds, but smaller than the chaff and shake.”

Store your seeds in a paper envelope or jar in a cool, dark, dry place. Alternatively, store them in a zipper bag in your refrigerator.

Try Arugula Microgreens

A simple and inexpensive way to boost your nutrition is to grow microgreens. Any regular herb or vegetable, including arugula, can be turned into a microgreen simply by harvesting it while the plant is still young. It’s simply a matter of not waiting until it’s fully mature. A microgreen or “baby” green is harvested when just a week or two old, when it’s reached a height of about 2 to 4 inches.

Many of the benefits of sprouts and microgreens relate to the fact that, in their initial and early phase of growth, the plants contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients. Vitamins like A, B-complex, C and E also increase in sprouted foods, sometimes by 20 percent within just a few days of germination. As a result, you need to eat far less, in terms of amount, compared to a mature plant. As noted in the book, “Microgreens: Novel, Fresh and Functional Food to Explore All the Value of Biodiversity:”

“Microgreens are … increasingly used by haute cuisine chefs to prepare gourmet dishes intended to satisfy the needs of modern consumers, more and more health conscious and particularly attentive to their health, diet and food quality.

Although [they] are often used with the main aesthetic purpose of garnishing dishes, microgreens also have a very good nutritional profile and … are considered ‘functional foods’ or ‘super foods’ as … they can also provide bioactive compounds able to improve some functions of the organism and/or reduce the risk of diseases.”

Do You Have a Victory Garden?

The idea of planting Victory Gardens goes back to World War I and II, and was advertised as a way for patriots to make a difference on the home front. Planting these gardens helped the citizens combat food shortages by supplying themselves and their neighbors with fresh produce.

Planting your own Victory Garden can go a long way toward healthier eating, and in the long run, it can provide incentive for industry-wide change, and a return to a diet of real food, for everyone, everywhere. A great way to get started on your own is by sprouting. They may be small, but sprouts are packed with nutrition and best of all, they’re easy and inexpensive to grow.

A native Mediterranean mushroom found to protect the liver from disease


Image: A native Mediterranean mushroom found to protect the liver from disease

People with high blood sugar exhibit high lipid levels brought about by excessive intake of fatty foods — a condition called hyperlipidemia. When left untreated, hyperlipidemia can pave the way for other diseases like atherosclerosis and fatty liver. If certain foods can cause hyperlipidemia, there are also foods that can prevent it. A study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, revealed that the edible mushroom Pleurotus eryngii can reduce lipid levels and protect the liver.

In hyperlipidemic patients, there is an increase in the bad cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), while the good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels are reduced. Altered lipid levels have been shown to inhibit the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body, which causes free radicals to build up and induce oxidative damage. Since the liver serves as a storage for excess fat, it is susceptible to damage caused by the fat buildup and oxidative stress.

There are more than 95 million people that have been diagnosed with hyperlipidemia in the U.S. alone, which is why this problem should immediately be addressed. Although there are prescription drugs for treating hyperlipidemia, these are associated with adverse side effects and are not advised for long-term use. Because of this, people are now turning to natural antihyperlipidemic substances.

One of the potential alternatives that researchers considered is P. eryngii, a mushroom that originated from the Mediterranean region. Previous studies have shown that P. eryngii contains many bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, sterols, and peptides. Among these, polysaccharides were shown to be the most potent since it has antioxidant, anti-aging, antivirus, and anti-lipid peroxidation properties. Aside from these, polysaccharides are also highly stable, water-soluble, and non-toxic, which makes them suitable for medicinal applications. Although there have been studies regarding the antihyperlipidemic effects of polysaccharides from P. eryngii, none of these focused on exopolysaccharides.

Mother Nature’s micronutrient secret: Organic Broccoli Sprout Capsules now available, delivering 280mg of high-density nutrition, including the extraordinary “sulforaphane” and “glucosinolate” nutrients found only in cruciferous healing foods. Every lot laboratory tested. See availability here.

In this study, the researchers conducted both in vitro and in vivo evaluations of exopolysaccharides from P. eryngii. For the in vitro studies, they first determined what monosaccharides were present in the samples. They then proceeded to evaluate antioxidant activity based on free radical scavenging activity and reducing power. Results showed five different monosaccharides were present in exopolysaccharides. These were arabinose, xylose, mannose, galactose, and glucose. The researchers also observed that the exopolysaccharides have potent antioxidant activity. This is important since antioxidants prevent oxidative stress from inducing inflammation.

The in vivo experiments were performed on Kunming strain mice that were perfused with high-fat emulsion than the exopolysaccharides. After 28 days of this treatment, the liver and serum samples were collected from the mice and subjected to biochemical and histopathological analysis. Aside from these, the toxicity of exopolysaccharides was also determined. The results showed that without the exopolysaccharide treatment, the mice experienced an increase in body weight and liver weight, which could be a sign of fatty liver. They also had elevated triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL-C levels while HDL-C was reduced. Additionally, the activity of antioxidant enzymes was significantly reduced. In mice perfused with exopolysaccharides, all of the aforementioned effects of the high-fat emulsion were improved, proving that the exopolysaccharides can be used to treat hyperlipidemia.

“[Exopolysaccharides] exhibited potential and impressive prevention effects on high-fat diet-induced hyperlipidaemia in mice that were similar to those of the prophylactic agent simvastatin, demonstrating that polysaccharides can be exploited as potential natural drugs and functional foods for the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidaemia,” the researchers concluded.

Based on these results, it can be determined that exopolysaccharides from P. eryngii can be utilized for the treatment of hyperlipidemia since it has antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic, and hepatoprotective properties. These properties make it a good alternative for harmful prescription drugs.

Scientists study Canadian medicinal plants to explore natural cures for diabetes


Image: Scientists study Canadian medicinal plants to explore natural cures for diabetes

Diabetes is a complex disease that leads to a wide variety of complications, one of the most common of which is diabetic nephropathy (DN) or kidney damage. A team of researchers from Canada sought to identify natural extracts, found in the eastern James Bay area, with potent anti-apoptotic properties that can prevent kidney cell death characteristic of DN. Their study was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

When it was first recorded in ancient Egypt, diabetes was considered mainly a rare disease. Today, it has exploded into a worldwide epidemic, with about 422 million sufferers on the planet in 2014. The prevalence of the disease is known to be spreading steadily, particularly in mid- to low-income countries.

One of the most dangerous complications of diabetes is DN, which is usually a precursor to kidney failure when left unaddressed. It is just one of the many results of the abnormal apoptotic process that occurs as a result of diabetes.

Apoptosis or cellular death is a natural process that’s essential to the continued balance of the human body. Because of it, old, dysfunctional cells are replaced by new ones. A proof of its importance is how its absence can cause the development of severe diseases, such as cancer.

But as with everything, too much apoptosis is hardly a good thing. In diabetes, the cells go through apoptosis at an abnormal rate. It usually starts with the death of the pancreatic beta cells, the cells responsible for producing the hormone insulin. The insufficiency in insulin results in a jump in blood glucose levels, which leads to more cellular death. Apart from kidney cells, those in the liver and the nervous system are also at a considerable risk.

Mother Nature’s micronutrient secret: Organic Broccoli Sprout Capsules now available, delivering 280mg of high-density nutrition, including the extraordinary “sulforaphane” and “glucosinolate” nutrients found only in cruciferous healing foods. Every lot laboratory tested.

DN is one of the most common offshoots of diabetes among the people of the Cree nation in Canada, according to the study’s authors. This has prompted them to look into potential natural treatments that are readily available in the area. They compiled a list of 17 plant species:

  • Balsam fir – Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.
  • Speckled alder – Alnus incana subsp. rugosa (Du Roi) R.T. Clausen
  • Creeping snowberry – Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl.
  • Ground juniper – Juniperus communis L.
  • Sheep Laurel – Kalmia angustifolia L.
  • Tamarack – Larix laricina Du Roi (K. Koch)
  • Common clubmoss – Lycopodium clavatum L.
  • White spruce – Picea glauca (Moench) Voss
  • Black spruce – Picea mariana (P. Mill.) BSP
  • Jack pine – Pinus banksiana Lamb.
  • Balsam poplar – Populus balsamifera L.
  • Labrador tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron and Judd
  • Northern Labrador tea – Rhododendron tomentosum (Stokes) Harmaja subsp. subarcticum (Harmaja) G. Wallace
  • Tealeaf willow – Salix planifolia Pursh
  • Pitcher plant – Sarracenia purpurea L.
  • Showy mountain ash – Sorbus decora (Sarg.) C.K. Schneid.
  • Mountain cranberry – Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.

Extracts were obtained from specific parts of the different plants. The researchers then took cultures of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells, which are cells from a cocker spaniel that are used for biological studies involving the kidneys. They induced damage on the MDCK cells by the administration of a hypertonic medium. This particular step was performed in the presence or absence of each of the 17 plant extracts’ maximal nontoxic concentrations. After 18 hours of treatment, the cells were examined to determine the cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects of the extracts. The researchers then looked at the effect of the treatment on the activity of caspases-3, -8, and -9, all of which play an important role in apoptosis.

After the test, the researchers identified Gaultheria hispidula and Abies balsamea as having the most potent cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects. The said extracts prevented apoptosis by blocking the activity of caspase-9 in the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway.

%d bloggers like this: