A new report from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS), a top research group, claims that niacin — and not dangerous statins — is by far the most effective and affordable cure for keeping your nagging high cholesterol in check.
Niacin — a form of vitamin B3 — has been studied in more than 42,000 scientific papers, Continue reading →
Rosemary a fragrant herb native to the Mediterranean region has many benefits it can reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory, mental performance, concentration–and even have a significant effect on your test-taking ability?
It appears that the ancient Greeks knew something about rosemary herbs that the rest of the world didn’t. Grecian scholars traditionally wore sprigs of rosemary when taking tests because they believed the herb would improve their performance.
Two recent studies prove that the Greeks’ use of rosemary didn’t just stem from a herbal folklore or superstition, but actually has scientific merit.
Both studies–one from the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing in Boca Raton, and the other from the Department of Nursing at Nambu University in Korea–found that rosemary benefits has a significant and measurable positive effect on test takers! That same benefit carries over to any high-stress situation that requires concentration, memory, and cognition. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON – When it comes to heart health, you shouldn’t ignore your legs, say experts.
The Vascular Disease Foundation and its P.A.D. Coalition are urging people to listen to the legs and be alert to the signs of peripheral arterial disease, or P.A.D.
P.A.D. occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, reducing blood flow to the legs. This can result in leg muscle pain when walking, disability, amputation, and poor quality of life.
If you have blocked arteries somewhere in the body, you are likely to have them elsewhere.
Thus, P.A.D. is a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart, are likely affected-increasing the risk of a heart disease, heart attack and even death.
People with P.A.D. may have one or more of the following symptoms: ‘Claudicating’ – fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh or buttocks) that occurs during activity such as walking and goes away with rest.
Foot or toe pains at rest that often disturbs sleep kin wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes that are slow to heal (or that do not heal for 8 to 12 weeks).
“Often, people think leg discomfort or slow healing sores are just a part of aging, yet they can be signs of a serious disease. Through early detection and proper treatment, we can reduce the devastating consequences of P.A.D. and improve the nation’s cardiovascular health,” said Joseph Caporusso of the P.A.D. Coalition.
Every muscle is actually a wrapped package, containing other smaller wrapped packages of long, slender cells known as muscle fibers. The outer wrapping, made of connective tissue, is called the muscle fascia. The smaller packages are called muscle fascicles, and each one contains a bundle of up to 150 muscle fibers. At both ends of every muscle, the fascia covering the muscle tapers to form a strong, rope-like length of connective tissue called a tendon, which is connected directly to one of your bones. One end, which connects to a relatively unmoving skeletal part, is the origin of the muscle. The point where it’s attached to a moving bone is the insertion of the muscle. For example, the biceps muscle originates at the shoulder, and its insertion is in the forearm, near the elbow, which allows the forearm to flex during muscle contraction.
When the muscle contracts, it pulls on the tendon, and this causes the bone to move. The bigger the muscle, the more force it can generate on the bone. During contraction, the muscle pulls its origin and insertion closer together. Often a muscle is attached to either side of a joint, allowing motion of the joint during muscle contraction. For example, the biceps pulls the forearm up toward the body across the elbow joint.
Each muscle fiber shares a nerve ending with other nearby fibers, making up a group of fibers known as a motor unit. Every time the master motor nerve fires (sends an impulse to a muscle), this motor unit contracts simultaneously. This effect is called the “all-or-nothing” principle of muscle contraction.
So how many fibers are in a motor unit? It depends on whether the muscles are used for large, powerful movements, which require less nerve control, or for intricate activities, which call for more nervous system input. A typical finger muscle contains 40,000 muscle fibers divided into 120 motor units — a ratio of 340 fibers per nerve ending. The eye muscles are even more finely controlled, with 10 fibers per nerve. On the other hand, each of the 580 motor units in the large muscle of the calf is much bigger — averaging about 2,000 muscle fibers per nerve ending.
Every time a nerve ending fires, a burst of energy is released in each individual muscle fiber, causing tiny filaments to slide toward each other. The result is a significant shortening of the muscle fiber. When the fibers in a motor unit contract in unison, the result is a muscle contraction. Whatever form of exercise you’re doing, from swimming to bicycling; your movements depend on the repeated, coordinated firing of the appropriate motor units. Improved coordination of this firing sequence is a major reason you get more skilled at any physical activity with practice.
Native to southern Africa, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a shrub that has lush foilage and red flowers. The plant gets its name from the miniature hooks that cover its fruit. For thousands of years, the Khoisan peoples of Madagascar and the Kalahari Desert have used devil’s claw root in remedies to treat pain and complications of pregnancy and in topical ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems. Since its introduction to Europe from Africa in the early 1900s, dried roots have been used to restore appetite, relieve heartburn, and reduce pain and inflammation. Today, devil’s claw is used for degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis, for low back pain, and as an appetite stimulant and digestive tonic. Scientific evidence supports the use of devil’s claw root to help relieve pain and inflammation in people with arthritis and other painful disorders.
Devil’s claw does not have an odor, but it contains substances that make it taste bitter. It is a leafy perennial with branching roots and shoots. It has secondary roots, called tubers, that grow out of the main roots. The roots and tubers are used for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal Uses and Indications:
Studies have found that taking devil’s claw for several months substantially reduces pain and improves physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. A 4-month study, including 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis, examined the effects of devil’s claw root powder on pain. The devil’s claw supplement reduced pain and improved functional ability as effectively as standard doses of a leading European medication for osteoarthritis. In addition, those who received devil’s claw experienced fewer side effects and required fewer pain-reducing medications throughout the study.
Another study found that devil’s claw supplementation was effective in patients with rheumatic diseases (arthrosis and low back pain). Seventy-five patients with hip or knee arthritis were given devil’s claw, 2,400 mg daily, corresponding to 50 mg of harpagosides, for 12 weeks. The dosage provided a significant reduction of pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. Only 2 cases of possible adverse drug reactions were reported (complaints of indigestion and a sensation of fullness).
Back and neck pain
Although study results have been somewhat conflicting, evidence suggests that devil’s claw may help relieve low back and neck pain. In a small study of 63 people with mild-to-moderate back, neck, or shoulder pain, 4 weeks of treatment with a standardized extract of devil’s claw root provided moderate relief from muscle pain. In a larger study of 197 men and women with chronic low back pain, those who received daily doses of a commercialized devil’s claw extract every day for a month reported experiencing less pain and needing fewer painkilling medications than those who received placebo.
Another study followed 73 patients. Thirty-eight patients took a standardized devil’s claw supplement, while 35 taking the COX-2 inhibitor medicine rofecoxib, also known as Celebrex, for up to 54 weeks. Results inidicated that devil’s claw was as effective in relieving pain as the rofecoxib.
In addition to the treatment of these and other painful disorders, many professional herbalists consider devil’s claw to be useful for upset stomach, loss of appetite, headaches, allergies, and fever. Topical preparations of devil’s claw are also applied to the surface of the skin to heal sores, ulcers, boils, and skin lesions.
What’s It Made Of?:
Devil’s claw contains iridoid glycosides, components believed to have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Harpagoside (one type of iridoid) is highly concentrated in devil’s claw root and has been reported in some laboratory studies to have significant pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
Devil’s claw is available as dried or fresh root supplements and is found in capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and topical ointments. Teas (infusions) can also be made from dried devil’s claw root.
How to Take It:
There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of devil’s claw. Therefore, it is not currently recommended for children.
Standardized dose: 600 – 1,200 mg, standardized to contain 50 – 100 mg of harpagoside, 3 times daily
Dried tuber or dried root powder: 100 – 250 mg, 3 times daily
Liquid extract (1:1 in 25 % alcohol): 2 – 7 drops, 3 times daily
Tincture (1:5 in 25 % alcohol): 10 – 30 drops, 3 times daily
Tea (Decoction): Boil 1/3 – 1 (1.5 – 4 gm) teaspoonful in water. Strain and drink, 1 – 3 times daily.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach for strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
Devil’s claw is nontoxic and safe, with virtually no side effects if taken at the recommended therapeutic dose for short periods of time. However, high doses can cause mild gastrointestinal problems in some individuals, and it is not clear whether devil’s claw becomes toxic if taken for long periods of time.
Individuals with stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or gallstones should not take devil’s claw unless recommended by a health care provider.
Safety of devil’s claw for pregnant and breastfeeding women is not known. Therefore, it should be avoided during those times unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.
Warfarin and Other Blood-Thinning Medications — Devil’s claw may interact with a blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin) and cause bruising or bleeding disorders. For this reason, individuals taking warfarin or other blood-thinners should not use devil’s claw without first talking to a health care provider.
Other Potential Interactions — ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, diabetes medicines, diuretics, herbs with blood-thinning effects.