Watercress Turns Off Breast Cancer Cell Growth

Long associated with tea sandwiches and white gloves, watercress contains a powerful plant compound that may help fight breast cancer.

According to a study conducted at the University of Southampton and published in the British Journal of Nutrition and Biochemical Pharmacology, Continue reading

Cultured or Fermented Food?

Recipe of the Month – Basic Sourdough Bread

This recipe can be used to make a basic loaf of bread for sandwiches or just eating fresh from the oven.
Ingredients:
2 1/3 cups fresh sourdough starter
3 1/3 cups flour
1 to 1 ½ cups water (approximate) Continue reading

Kapikachhu

KapikachhuKapikachhu Health Benefits

Kapikachhu or Mucuna pruriens is well-known for its aphrodisiac activities as it is known to increase the sperm count and to increase testosterone levels in the body. The herb is also known to help the body build lean muscle and to break down surplus fat and hence Mucuna or Kapikachhu is often used by athletes, sports persons and body builders as sports medicine for increasing body performance. Continue reading

The Right Way to Get your Chocolate Fix

One can always cringe when we read a news report on the health benefits of cocoa — the takeaway is almost always “eat more chocolate.”

Sure, go ahead and eat more chocolate — if you want to kill yourself.

But if you want the health benefits, you’ll need to stick to pure cocoa and get it the same way I do: so raw you have to steal it from a monkey.

What’s the difference? Glad you asked.

Chocolate is a candy loaded with sugar, soy, and an alphabet soup of chemicals — and if that’s not bad enough, the cocoa used to make it has been treated, Continue reading

Artichokes Are Nutrient Dense with Many Health Benefits

The ancients considered artichokes to have many benefits. Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant. Decoctions of artichoke leaves have been used as blood cleansers to improve bile production and secretion and to detoxify the liver and the skin.

The globe artichoke is a member of the Composite family, closely related to the thistle. The part we eat is from the immature flower bud. Artichokes are nutrient dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you’re getting 16 essential nutrients! Artichokes provide the important minerals magnesium, chromium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. For example, that 25 calorie artichoke provides 6% of the  Continue reading

Introducing – Yohimbe

Introducing – Yohimbe

Alternate Names: Pausinystalia yohimbe

Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that grows in western Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Congo and Gabon.

The bark of the tree contains the active compounds called alkaloids. The principal alkaloid is called yohimbine.

Yohimbine is a prescription drug in the United States for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Its popularity has waned since the introduction of Viagra.

Yohimbe bark extracts are also sold in health food stores and online. In Germany, it is not approved for use. Yohimbe can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure, as well as anxiety and other side effects.

Why Do People Use Yohimbe?

Traditionally, yohimbe was used in Africa for fever, coughs, leprosy, and as an aphrodisiac. Today, yohimbe is promoted for the following conditions:

    * Erectile dysfunction

      Yohimbe bark extracts are widely promoted online and in health food stores as a natural aphrodisiac to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction. However, there is no evidence to show that the herbal supplements work. Most clinical studies have looked at the drug yohimbine and not the herbal extract yohimbe.

      Yohimbine has been found to relax and dilate blood vessels in the penis, resulting in increased blood flow and erection. It may also stimulate areas in the brain involved in sexual desire.

      Studies on the effectiveness of yohimbine have had conflicting findings. For organic erectile dysfunction (erectile dysfunction caused by a physical problem), one small uncontrolled study found that yohimbine was beneficial for men with organic erectile dysfunction. Another study found it was no more effective than a placebo.

      Yohimbine appears to work better for erectile dysfunction not caused by a physical problem. A German study examined whether 30 mg/day of yohimbine for 4 weeks would help men with erectile dysfunction not due to a physical problem. Yohimbine was found to be more effective than placebo (71% vs 45%).

      To date, there have been no studies comparing yohimbine to newer drugs such as Viagra.

    * Weight Loss

      Yohimbine has been found to increase lipolysis by increasing the release of norepinephrine available to fat cells and blocking alpha-2 receptor activation. However, a controlled study found that 43 mg/day yohimbe had no effect on body weight, body mass index, body fat, fat distribution, and cholesterol levels.

    * Depression

      Yohimbe has been promoted as a herbal remedy for depression, because it blocks an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. However, this is only found in higher doses (over 50 mg/day), which is potentially unsafe.

Safety

In Germany, yohimbe is on the Commission E (the country’s herbal regulatory agency). list of unapproved herbs because of concerns about the herb’s safety and effectiveness. In the United States, the FDA has had a number of reports of seizures and kidney failure following the use of yohimbe.

Yohimbe is not recommended because it has a very narrow therapeutic index. There is a relatively small dosing range–below it, the herb doesn’t work and above it the herb is toxic. Side effects of normal dosages may include dizziness, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. As little as 40 mg a day can cause severe side effects, such as dangerous changes in blood pressure, hallucinations, paralysis. Overdose can be fatal.

Because yohimbe blocks the enzyme monoamine oxidase, people taking yohimbe must avoid all tyramine-containing foods (e.g., liver, cheeses, red wine) and over-the-counter products that contain the ingredient phenylpropanolamine, such as nasal decongestants.

People with kidney or liver disease, stomach ulcers, heart disease, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder should not take yohimbe.

Yohimbe should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, children, or elderly people.

Yohimbe should not be combined with antidepressant drugs unless under the supervision of a physician.

Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?

Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?

MILAN, ITALY-  A Chinese herbal remedy known as “horny goat weed” may indeed live up to its name as a natural version of Viagra.

Italian researchers report that laboratory studies show that the compound has the potential to treat erectile dysfunction, and possibly with fewer side effects than its pharmaceutical cousin.

“No in-vivo studies in an animal model have been performed at this regard, so a lot of work must be done. We would like to test in vivo [with animals] the molecule to understand if it really works in humans,” said study lead author Mario Dell’Agli, of the University of Milan’s laboratory of pharmacognosy. “At this stage of the research, we cannot say if the molecule we have synthesized possesses less side effects with respect to Viagra. However, this derivative seems to be in vitro [in lab tests] more selective than Viagra, because it targets [an enzyme involved in blood flow to the penis] more precisely.”

The study was expected to be published in the Oct. 24 issue of the Journal of Natural Products, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

Viagra (sildenafil) is one of several prescription medications available and widely prescribed for erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects an estimated 18 million men in the United States. Viagra and other drugs like it can cause side effects such as headache, stomach problems and visual disturbances.

Horny goat weed, hailing primarily from southern China, has a long history as an aphrodisiac.

As part of a new screening program to find natural alternatives to Viagra, the study authors analyzed a number of herbal extracts long used for male impotence, including Ferula hermonis or Lebanese Viagra; Cinnamomum cassia or Chinese cinnamon; as well as Epimedium brevicornum aka horny goat weed. All three extracts are reputed to improve sexual performance.

The main active component of each extract was tested against an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase-5A1 (PDE5A1), which regulates blood supply to the penis. Inhibition of this enzyme results in more blood flow to the penis, resulting in an erection.

Icariin, the active ingredient of horny goat weed, inhibited PDE5A1 to a greater degree than the other compounds tested.

 

“The novelty of this work is the new molecule we have synthesized by icariin,” Dell’Agli said. “It is derived by chemical modifications of the structure of icariin, which is the active ingredient purified from E. brevicornum (horny goat weed). The mechanism by which the molecule we have found might work in humans is the inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE 5) in the corpus cavernosum [erectile tissue in the penis], which is the mechanism by which Viagra works. This is an in vitro study. It can be considered a pre-clinical study.”