Booming New Cannabis Industry Faces an Abundance of Hurdles

canaStory at-a-glance −

Many new state laws conflict with federal drug laws when it comes to pot, which creates problems for the industry and its consumers

 If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, Continue reading

Introducing Psycho-biotics! Probiotics Considered an Alternative Treatment for Depression

probioProbiotics are anything but new. In fact, it was in 1908 that Russian scientist Élie Metchnikoff first noted that rural Europeans who consistently drank fermented milk lived longer.

Most people have now seen the word so many times in ads for yogurt, dietary aides, Continue reading

Introducing – Kava

Latin name: Piper methysticum

Other names: kava kava, kawa, kew, yagona, sakau

Kava is a tall shrub in the pepper family that grows in the South Pacific islands. It has been used there for thousands of years as a folk remedy and as a social and ceremonial beverage.

The part of the plant used medicinally is the root. Although the root was traditionally chewed or made into a beverage, kava is now available in capsule, tablet, beverage, tea, and liquid extract forms.

Why People Use Kava:

    * Anxiety

    * Insomnia

Because kava can cause sedation, and in high amounts, intoxication, kava drinks are consumed in some parts of the world in much the same way as alcohol.

How Kava Works:

The main active components in kava root are called kavalactones. Specific types of kavalactones include dihydrokavain, methysticin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, dihydrokawain, yangonin and desmethoxyyangonin.

Although it’s not clear exactly how kava works, kavalactones may affect the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells) in the blood. Kava has been found to affect the levels of specific neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine.

Scientific Evidence for Kava:

A number of well-designed studies have examined kava’s ability to relieve anxiety compared to anxiety medication or a placebo. The results have been promising.

In 2003, a review by the Cochrane Collaboration examined the existing research to see how kava fared compared to a placebo in treating anxiety. After analyzing the 11 studies (involving a total of 645 people) that met the criteria, the researchers concluded that kava “appears to be an effective symptomatic treatment option for anxiety.” However, they added that it seemed to be a small effect.

Concerns About Kava and the Liver:

Although rare, case reports have linked kava use with liver toxicity, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

As a result, the FDA issued a warning about kava in 2002. Several countries have banned or restricted the sale of kava.

Clinical trials have not found liver toxicity. Adverse liver reactions appear to be linked to factors such as pre-existing liver disease, alcohol consumption, excessive doses, genetic variations in the cytochrome P450 enzymes, consumption of other drugs or herbs that, combined, may have a toxic effect, or the use of stem or leaf extracts or extracts made with acetone or ethanol.

Potential Side Effects of Kava:

Side effects include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities.

Kava may lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it shouldn’t be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t use kava because it may worsen symptoms.

Kava should not be taken within 2 weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease shouldn’t use kava.

Possible Drug Interactions:

Kava shouldn’t be taken by people who are taking Parkinson’s disease medications, antipsychotic drugs, or any medication that influences dopamine levels.

Kava shouldn’t be combined with alcohol or medications for anxiety or insomnia, including benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) or Ativan (lorazepam). It may have an additive effect if taken with drugs that cause drowsiness.

Kava may have an additive effect if combined with antidepressant drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

Kava shouldn’t be taken with any drug or herb that impairs liver function. Kava also may interfere with blood clotting, so people taking Coumadin (warfarin) or any drug that influences blood clotting should avoid it unless under a doctor’s supervision.

Kava is a diuretic, so it may have an additive effect if combined with drugs or herbs that have diuretic properties.

Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

BEVERLY HILLS – An estimated 10 per cent of American adults have mood disorders — 21 million. Another five million have Alzheimer’s disease.

Interest in cognitive health is also expanding to the younger populations, ages 25—50 years. Many younger people are more receptive to ‘keeping their brain sharp’ as they find themselves taking care of an elderly parent suffering from age-related mental decline and realise that they might have a similar condition in a few decades.

One of the primary ingredients marketed for cognitive health is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Martek’s life’sDHA is used in many infant formulas for improved cognitive function (and eye health), and through this platform is finding a home elsewhere. Its success is demonstrated with Martek’s second quarter financial 2009 results, which showed revenues up two per cent to $92.4 million.

“Our success within the infant formula market has provided us credibility with the food companies. If we are good enough for babies, we must be good enough for the rest of the population,” says Sarah Sullivan, senior manager of marketing at Martek Biosciences. “We market DHA based on the available science. And because DHA has brain, eye and heart-health benefits, there are many directions we can go. Ultimately, it’s up to the CPG company and how they want to position the ingredient within their food. But, because there isn’t as much competition within the ‘brain-health’ space, we generally recommend that they go that route.”

Other ingredients are hopping on the DHA bandwagon. Ocean Nutrition Canada, a major supplier of fish oil, has partnered with Kyowa Hakko USA and its Cognizin ingredient, which is GRAS and water-soluble.

Functional ingredients

Citicoline

Cocoa

Curcumin

Eleuthero

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA)

Ginkgo biloba

Huperzia serrata

L-carnitine

L-theanine

L-tyrosine

Melatonin

Omega-3 DHA

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Pomegranate

St John’s wort

Turmeric

Vinpocetine

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

“We wanted to leverage both companies’ ingredients for brain health,” says Karen E Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. “We have found that Cognizin not only supports memory function and healthy cognition, but crosses over many functions — increasing levels of critical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine, enhancing cellular integrity by increasing phospholipids synthesis, and supporting cellular activity by increasing levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).”

Chemi Nutra combined omega-3 fatty acids with phosphatidylserine (PS) to form a new offering. “OmegaAid PS is the natural evolution of combining marine-sourced omega-3 fatty acids with PS, utilizing Chemi’s proprietary manufacturing expertise, and supported by Chemi’s numerous patents,” says Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra and Chemi Pharma.

Hagerman says the company works to leverage market interest into successful new ingredients. “We first look at market attractiveness, long-term prospects of selling, production capabilities and, finally, patent opportunities, since we have to make substantial investments in identifying and developing new ingredient product opportunities.”

One new entrant to the field is Vivimind by Ovos Natural Health. The ingredient, derived from homotaurine found in seaweed, has a great deal of research behind it, on more than 2,000 individuals. It is set to launch in the US market by the end of the year.

“Vivimind has received scientific support and has been embraced by consumers in the Canadian market since its launch in September 2008,” says Jim Stitley, general manager of US commercial operations for Ovos.

Other emerging ingredients include vinpocetine, curcumin and turmeric. And — surprise, surprise — vitamin D. A May 2009 study in Europe of more than 3,000 men aged 40-79 found those with high vitamin D levels performed better on memory and information processing tes