Was Linus Pauling Right About Vitamin C’s Curative Powers After All?

vcStory at-a-glance −

One of the most famous forerunners of high dose vitamin C treatment for disease prevention was Dr. Linus Pauling, a biochemist and peace activist, and a two-time Nobel Laureate

A large, Continue reading

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Life Saving Vitamin D for Swine Flu

People still don’t get it: Vitamin D is the “miracle nutrient” that activates your immune system to defend you against invading microorganisms — including seasonal flu and swine flu. Two months ago, an important study was published by researchers at Oregon State University. This study reveals something startling: Vitamin D is so crucial to the functioning of your immune system that the ability of vitamin D to boost immune function and destroy invading microorganisms has been conserved in the genome for over 60 million years of evolution.

As this press release from Oregon State University (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_relea…) explains:

The fact that this vitamin-D mediated immune response has been retained through millions of years of evolutionary selection, and is still found in species ranging from squirrel monkeys to baboons and humans, suggests that it must be critical to their survival, researchers say.

“The existence and importance of this part of our immune response makes it clear that humans and other primates need to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D,” said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

The announcement goes on to explain:

In primates, this action of “turning on” an optimal response to microbial attack only works properly in the presence of adequate vitamin D, which is actually a type of hormone that circulates in the blood and signals to cells through a receptor. Vitamin D is produced in large amounts as a result of sun exposure, and is available in much smaller amounts from dietary sources.

Vitamin D prevents the “adaptive” immune response from over-reacting and reduces inflammation, and appears to suppress the immune response. However, the function of the new genetic element this research explored allows vitamin D to boost the innate immune response by turning on an antimicrobial protein. The overall effect may help to prevent the immune system from overreacting.

Without vitamin D, you’re really at risk

What this study reveals is that without sufficient levels of vitamin D circulating in your blood, you’re a ripe, juicy target for influenza (H1N1 or otherwise). If you lack vitamin D, your immune system can’t “activate” to do its job. That’s why people who are deficient in vitamin D so frequently get winter colds.

But people who are high in vitamin D have the nutritional power to activate their immune system so that it can respond to invading pathogens. Crucially, vitamin D also manages to balance immune response and prevent inflammation — the leading cause of death in the 1918 influenza pandemic.

So not only does vitamin D protect you from the initial infection; it also prevents your body from over-reacting and killing you with inflammation (which typically gets expressed as bacterial pneumonia, an infection of the lungs).

Swine Flu Jab Linked to Rare Nerve Disease

LONDON – There may be a possible link between the swine flu jab and an increased risk of developing a rare nerve disease, admit health watchdogs.

Experts are carrying out studies to examine a possible link between the vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis and even death.

Authorities have always denied any link although it had been suspected that a previous swine flu vaccine had caused the disease in the US in the 1970s.

Now the Medicines and Health care products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published a report that suggests that further tests are to be carried out, reports the Telegraph.

It reads: “Given the uncertainties in the available information and as with seasonal flu vaccines, a slightly elevated risk of GBS following H1N1 vaccines cannot be ruled out.”

It is not known precisely what causes GBS but the condition attacks the lining of the nerves, leaving them unable to transmit signals to muscles effectively.

It can cause partial paralysis and mostly affects the hands and feet – but it can be fatal if it paralyses the respiratory system.

A vaccine used to combat a different form of swine flu in the US in 1976 led to 25 deaths from the condition, compared with just one death from swine flu itself.

The MHRA had 15 suspected GBS cases after vaccination – and six million doses of the swine flu jab Pandemrix were given.

Milk During Pregnancy May Lower a Baby’s Risk of Developing MS Later in Life

Recent media reports have covered research announced ahead of the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Annual Meeting in April which suggested that milk during pregnancy may lower a baby’s risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life.

The theory from the researchers in Boston, announced in an AAN press release, was based on a survey of American mothers.

It was claimed that MS risk was lower among women born to mothers with high milk or dietary vitamin D intake in pregnancy.

Unfortunately UK media reports focused on the milk link ; however it is in fact the case that there are only trace elements of vitamin D in milk consumed in this country.

Unlike America, most of Britain’s milk is not fortified with vitamin D and so whatever quantity of milk is ingested, vitamin D levels in the body are likely to remain unaffected.

While it may be true that vitamin D has previously been shown to potentially play a role in MS, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet including oily fish and exposing skin to safe levels of sunshine are the best ways to increase levels of vitamin D.

Kuwait Government Approves New Alternative Medicine Hospital

KUWAIT- The Cabinet has approved the establishment of a new 300-bed capacity hospital for alternative medicine and rehabilitation at a total cost of KD 30 million, announced the

The new hospital will built on the site where the current alternative medicine hospital is situated. A state-of-the art, fully equipped hospital will replace the existing building. It will include a rehabilitation center for the disabled, senior citizens’ care centers among other facilities offered.

The hospital will also be connected to one of the most advanced international centers in the field of alternative medicine, said Al-Abdulhadi. It is expected to be ready within five years, reported Al-Qabas.

On a separate note, Al-Abdulhadi announced that the decision concerning the appointment of new directors for medical, technical divisions will be made soon, especially after the Ministry completes the process of electing the most qualified candidates for the posts in coordination with the regulations of the Civil Service Commission(CSC).

Meanwhile, Al-Abdulhadi addressed the issue of health insurance hospitals, stating that the project to establish these hospitals still await a decision made by the Cabinet before it is set up. These facilities are expected to provide citizens and residents with the best medical care services.

No Need for Pregnant Women to Fast During Labor

No Need for Pregnant Women to Fast During Labor

DETROIT –  There is no reason why pregnant women at low risk for complications during delivery should be denied fluids and food during labor, a new Cochrane research review concludes.

“Women should be free to eat and drink in labour, or not, as they wish,” the authors of the review wrote in the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

Dr. Jennifer Milosavljevic, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, who was not involved in the Cochrane Review, agrees that pregnant women should be allowed to eat and/or drink during labor.

“In my experience,” she told Reuters Health in an email, “most pregnant patients at Henry Ford are placed on a clear liquid diet during labor which includes water, apple juice, cranberry juice, broth, and jello. If a patient is brought in for a prolonged induction of labor, she will typically be permitted to eat a regular diet and order anything off the menu in between different induction modalities.”

Milosavlievic has “not seen any adverse outcomes by allowing women the option of liquids and/or a regular diet in labor.”

Standard hospital policy for many decades has been to allow only tiny sips of water or ice chips for pregnant women in labor if they were thirsty. Why? It was feared, and some studies in the 1940s showed, that if a woman needed to undergo general anesthesia for a cesarean delivery, she might inhale regurgitated liquids or food particles that could lead to pneumonia and other lung damage.

But anesthesia practices have changed and improved since the 1940s, with more use of regional anesthesia and safer general anesthesia.

And recently, attitudes on food and drink during labor have begun to relax. Last September, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a “Committee Opinion” advising doctors that women with a normal, uncomplicated labor may drink modest amounts of clear liquids such as water, fruit juice without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, black coffee, and sports drinks. They fell short of saying food was okay, however, advising that women should avoid fluids with solid particles, such as soup.

“As for the continued restriction on food, the reality is that eating is the last thing most women are going to want to do since nausea and vomiting during labor is quite common,” Dr. William H. Barth, Jr., chair of ACOGs Committee on Obstetric Practice, noted in a written statement at the time.

But based on the evidence, Mandisa Singata of the East London Hospital Complex in East London, South Africa, an author on the new Cochrane Review, says “women should be able to make their own decisions about whether they want to eat or drink during labour, or not.”

Singata and colleagues systematically reviewed five studies involving more than 3100 pregnant that looked at the evidence for restricting food and drink in women who were considered unlikely to need anesthesia. One study looked at complete restriction versus giving women the freedom to eat and drink at will; two studies looked at water only versus giving women specific fluids and foods and two studies looked at water only versus giving women carbohydrate drinks.

The evidence showed no benefits or harms of restricting foods and fluids during labor in women at low risk of needing anesthesia.

Singata and colleagues acknowledge that many women may not feel like eating or drinking during labor. However, research has shown that some women find the food and drink restriction unpleasant. Poor nutritional balance may be also associated with longer and more painful labors. Drinking clear liquids in limited quantities has been found to bring comfort to women in labor and does not increase labor complications.

The researchers emphasize that they did not find any studies that assessed the risks of eating and drinking for women with a higher risk of needing anesthesia and so further research is need before specific recommendations can be made for this group.

SOURCE: Cochrane Library, 2010.

 

Cola Drinking Linked to Diabetes in Pregnancy

NEW ORLEANS – Drinking lots of sugar-sweetened cola may increase women’s likelihood of developing diabetes during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes, new research shows.

Compared to women who had less than one such beverage a month, women who drank at least five servings of non-diet cola a week were at greater risk of gestational diabetes, even after accounting for their body mass index (BMI), level of physical activity, and other diabetes risk factors, researchers found.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in US diets, and several studies have linked high sugary drink intake with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women, Dr. Liwei Chen of the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans and colleagues note in the latest edition of the journal Diabetes Care.

But there is little information on whether consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages before pregnancy might increase gestational diabetes risk, they add.

To investigate, the researchers analyzed data from the Nurses Health Study II, looking at 13, 475 women who had at least one pregnancy between 1992 and 2001. During that time, 860 women reported having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time.

Women who drank five or more sugar-sweetened beverages of any type per week were 23 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who drank less than one serving a month, and the relationship remained even after the researchers accounted for other gestational diabetes risk factors such as BMI and family history of diabetes.

But accounting for a Western-style diet — heavy in red meats, processed meats, sweets, snacks and other less-healthy foods — did explain some of the association between diabetes and sugary drinks.

The researchers looked separately at cola beverages, because the caramel coloring used in them has been linked in animal studies to insulin resistance and inflammation. They found a 22 percent increased risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy for women who drank five or more non-diet colas a week, compared to women who had less than one serving of cola a month.

There was no relationship between diet beverage consumption and gestational diabetes risk.

The demands pregnancy puts on a woman’s metabolism may “unmask” a tendency toward developing diabetes and similar conditions, Chen and colleagues note. Drinking cola could contribute to this tendency by making for a sugar-filled diet, they add, which in and of itself may be harmful to the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.

Because diet cola didn’t increase gestational diabetes risk, they add, caramel coloring isn’t likely to be a major factor in the relationship observed with non-diet cola.

The findings “are particularly relevant” given that so many people drink sugar-sweetened cola, the researchers write. They call for more research on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and gestational diabetes, as well as other pregnancy outcomes.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2009.

 

Brain Prods You Into Gorging on Good Food

AUSTIN – The brain prods you into splurging on an extra ice-cream scoop or that second burger, practically sabotaging your efforts to get back into shape, a new study says.

Findings from a new University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre (UTSMC) study suggest that fat from certain foods we eat makes its way to the brain.

There, these fat molecules cause the brain to send messages to the body’s cells, directing them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation.

Researchers also found that one particular type of fat — palmitic acid — is particularly effective at instigating this mechanism. It is a common saturated fatty acid, occurring in butter, cheese, milk and beef.

“Normally, our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen when we’re eating something good,” said Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UTSMC. Clegg led the study on rodents.

“What we’ve shown in this study is that someone’s entire brain chemistry can change in a very short period of time.”

“When you eat something high in fat, your brain gets ‘hit’ with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin,” Clegg said. “Since you’re not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat.”

In animals, the effect lasts about three days, potentially explaining why many people who splurge on Friday or Saturday say they’re hungrier than normal on Monday, added Clegg.

Clegg said that even though the findings are in animals, they reinforce the common dietary recommendation that individuals limit their saturated fat intake. “It causes you to eat more,” she said, according to an UTSMC release.

The next step, Clegg averred, is to determine how long it takes to reverse completely the effects of short-term exposure to high-fat food.

The study appeared in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Swine Flu Prompts Calls for Kissing Strike in Spain

MADRID – H1N1 influenza is prompting tough health measures around the globe, but could it go as far as forcing a “kissing strike” in traditionally affectionate Spain?

The health authorities are recommending that Spaniards no longer greet each other with the usual kiss on both cheeks. But many people say kissing is so important they are willing to risk catching the disease, popularly known as swine flu.

“What would people think if I refused to return their kisses?” exclaims Maria, 40. “I am so used to it, I could not stop doing it.”

Even Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez herself has been seen greeting officials with kisses, despite the warnings issued by her ministry.

As in some other Mediterranean countries, Spanish women and even male relatives or friends greet each other with kisses or at least with gestures of kissing on the cheeks.

Spanish people generally like touching each other, for instance placing their hand around the shoulder or their hand on the hand of the person they are talking to.

However, kisses and hugs are among the most effective ways of spreading H1N1, experts warn in the country where swine flu has killed around 20 people, one of the highest rates in Europe.

The health ministry is planning to vaccinate people with chronic diseases, health and some other professionals, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups. There will be sufficient vaccines for up to 60 percent of the population.

Above all, however, the authorities intend to focus on information campaigns advising people to avoid habits that could spread the virus.

“Do not kiss, do not shake hands, just say hi,” the Madrid city council recommended in a placard it placed on a wall of the city hall.

“Getting used to limiting close contact diminishes the risk of transmission (of the virus),” Juan Jose Rodriguez Sendin, president of a doctors’ organisation, told the daily El Pais.

The Catholic Church has heeded the warning, recommending to believers that they refrain from kissing statues of the Virgin Mary during religious celebrations.

During religious services where Catholics eat a small wafer of bread, some priests have also begun placing the wafer in the hand of the communicant. Traditionally, priests placed it directly in the mouth of the person.

Some churches have emptied fonts of holy water to prevent the virus from spreading if an infected person dips a hand in the font.

Prior to the appearance of swine flu, the custom of kissing the cheeks had become a little less common. Some sociologists say that was possibly because of the influence of the colder and physically more distant US culture.

Kissing has often not been replaced with the handshake typical of US or northern European cultures, observed Irene, a Madrid civil servant.

“Some people no longer touch each other at all when meeting, just nodding at each other,” she said.

That would be ideal for fighting H1N1, but experts doubt whether most Spaniards can change their ways, and concede that they would have a lot to lose if they did.

There is an abundance of scientific studies proving what nearly every human being instinctively knows: that touching is good for us.

It increases self-confidence, lowers arterial pressure, makes people more sociable and less aggressive, studies show.

“It is very unlikely that we will forget kissing,” El Pais concluded.

UAE uses SMS to Raise Awareness about Swine Flu

DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates health ministry is sending mobile phone SMSes to the public to raise awareness about the precautionary measures against influenza A (H1N1), WAM news agency reported Monday.

The messages advise people to avoid the traditional Arab nose salutation and keep away from crowded places.

Ali Ahmed bin Shakr, director general of the ministry and head of the H1N1 technical committee, said the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) has sponsored to send the SMS messages to public.

“Dung of the Devil” Plant Roots may Offer Swine Flu Cure

BEIJING – Chinese scientists have found that the roots of a plant have powerful natural substances that can kill the H1N1 virus.

Researchers Fang-Rong Chang and Yang-Chang Wu identified chemicals in the extracts of the “Dung of the Devil” plant, which were more effective against the H1N1 virus than the antiviral drug currently available for the flu.

The report was published in the Sept. 25 issue of ACS’ Journal of Natural Products.

The plant biologically called ferula assa-foetida, is found in Iran, Afghanistan and mainland China.

The authors say: “Overall, the present study has determined that sesquiterpene coumarins from F. assa-foetida may serve as promising lead components for new drug development against influenza A (H1N1) viral infection.”

The plant was also used as a remedy during the1918 Spanish flu that took a toll of nearly 100 million lives.

However, the antiviral capacity of the plant was not fully confirmed until now.

Basic Hygiene More Effective Against Swine Flu than Drugs

ROME – A new study has found that maintaining basic hygiene like washing hands and using face masks can control the spread of swine flu more effectively than vaccines and antiviral drugs.

The report has been published in the British Medical Journal.

The research team led by professor Tom Jefferson from the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group in Italy reviewed 59 studies done on the usefulness of physical ways to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.

The team concluded that washing hands frequently, wearing masks, gloves and gowns around sick patients were the most effective ways to avoid contracting flu.

The scientists further noted that if all of these measures were followed properly one case of respiratory flu out of every three could be prevented.

Dr Jefferson said everyone thought taking vaccines and antivirals, could prevent/cure the disease but this was only an “obsession with vaccines that don’t exist and antivirals which will probably cause you sickness as well”.

1 in 5 U.S. kids found deficient in vitamin D

1 in 5 U.S. kids found deficient in vitamin D

Chicago(AP) — At least 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 1 to 11 doesn’t get enough vitamin D and could be at risk for a variety of health problems including weak bones, the most recent national analysis suggests.

By a looser measure, almost 90 percent of black children that age and 80 percent of Latino kids could be vitamin D deficient – “astounding numbers” that should serve as a call to action, said Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, lead author of the new analysis and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.

The deficiency is a concern because recent studies suggest the vitamin might help prevent infections, diabetes and some cancers.

The new analysis, released online today by the journal Pediatrics, is the first assessment of varying vitamin D levels in children ages 1 through 11. The study used data from a 2001-06 government health survey of almost 3,000 children who had blood tests measuring vitamin D.

Know the Difference between Cold and Swine Flu Symptoms

Know the Difference between Cold and Swine Flu Symptoms

 

Symptom

Cold

Swine Flu

Aches

Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.

Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Chills

Chills are uncommon with a cold.

60% of people who have the flu experience chills.

Tiredness

Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.

Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.

Sneezing

Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.

Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Sudden Symptoms

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.

The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.

Headache

A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold..

A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.

Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.

Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.