Processed Fructose Is the Number One Driver of Obesity and Diabetes

Story at-a-glance −

Recent research confirms that all calories are not equal. Added sugars, and processed fructose, are significantly more harmful than other carbohydrates

Fructose worsens insulin levels Continue reading

Magnesium Improves Metabolic Profile In Metabolically Obese, Normal-Weight Individuals

Some normal weight individuals show obesity-related characteristics such as insulin resistance, elevated fasting blood sugar levels, high triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure. Although eating a high carbohydrate diet is linked to these findings, Continue reading

Vitamin E May Alleviate Symptoms of Liver Disease Brought on by Obesity

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  • Vitamin E may help relieve the majority of symptoms associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a common obesity-related fatty liver disease
  • With no known treatment – and often no symptoms until serious damage has    occurred – Continue reading

Six Dangerous Prescription Drugs You Should Think Twice Before Taking

Just because your doctor prescribes it does not necessarily mean it is safe for you to take. Many popular prescription drugs, it turns out, come with the potential for serious side effects, including everything from short-term nausea and headaches to chronic inflammatory myopathy and heart disease — or worse. Continue reading

Coffee Grounds Make Great Supplements, a Study Shows

Coffee is currently in the crosshairs of a lot of scientists as they have come to realize that coffee, particularly coffee grounds, contains a lot of antioxidants that could be harnessed and placed into supplements. It is estimated that about 20 million tons of coffee grounds are used in a year as millions of people consume many cups of coffee daily. Continue reading

Boneset

Did You Know…

… that Boneset was one of most widely used medicinal plants of early America and has been used well into the 21st century to treat a variety of ailments…particularly influenza and fever? Continue reading

New ‘Traffic Light’ Test Could Save Lives with earlier Diagnosis of Liver Disease

A new ‘traffic light’ test devised by Dr Nick Sheron and colleagues at University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital could be used in primary care to diagnose liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in high risk populations more easily than at present.

Liver disease develops silently without symptoms, and many people have no idea they have liver failure until it is too late – one-third of people admitted Continue reading

Myrrh May Have Health Benefits

Myrrh is a rust-colored resin of certain trees of the Middle East and best known as one of the gifts of the Magi offered to the infant Jesus, along with gold and frankincense (Mt 2:11). A new study published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health has studied the plant material and found it to have cholesterol-lowering properties.

Scientists from King Abd Al-Aziz University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia studied myrrh, already known to have medicinal properties, including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Historically, the plant resin has been used as a natural remedy for halitosis (bad breath), for treating sore throats and bronchial congestion, as an antiseptic astringent, and for embalming. Even today, it is an ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash.

Nadia Saleh Al-Amoudi fed laboratory rats a combination of a variety of plant materials, including Commiphara myrrh and measured lipid levels, including total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, triglycerides and HDL. Similar studies have found that myrrh may reduce total cholesterol from 11 to 32% and triglycerides by 17 to 30%. It may also raise HDL cholesterol.

Myrrh is used frequently in the practice of Ayurveda. The plant, called Daindhava, yields guggulsterones, named after the Indian myrrh, guggul. Guggulsterones are thought to lower blood lipids, including cholesterol. According to animal research, guggulsterone inhibits a gene in liver cells called famesoid X receptor (FXR). This receptor responds to bile acids and affects the absorption of cholesterol. The use of myrrh may inhibit this receptor, causing intestinal cholesterol to be less absorbed, lowering the amount released into the bloodstream.

Myrrh has also been studied as an herbal formula to lower blood sugar levels. Researchers in Kuwait studied myrrh and aloe gums in 1987 and found that they improved glucose tolerance in both normal and diabetic rats.

Scientists from the University of Florence in Italy also tested myrrh on mice as shown to produce analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. The terpene in myrrh affected opioid receptors in the mouse’s brain which influenced pain perception.

Myrrh is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat the heart, liver, and spleen meridians. It is classified as bitter, spicy and neutral in temperature. It is used, along with frankincense, in arthritic conditions. It is also used in the treatment of menstrual problems, as it is thought to be “blood-moving”.

According to the German Commission E, 5-10 drops of the undiluted tincture of myrrh can be used in water as a gargle up to three times daily. Capsules, containing up to 1 gram of resin, or 25 milligrams of guggulsterones, can be taken three times a day for twelve to twenty-four weeks.

The supplement, which can be purchased in the United States either as myrrh extract or guggulipid, should be used under doctor supervision. Raw resin can be toxic and should never be used as a treatment. Common side effects are diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It is believed safe in pregnancy, but should not be used by persons with liver disease or those with inflammatory bowel disease.

Cups of Coffee a Day May Help Fight Liver Disease

Researchers in the United States have found another good reason to go to the local espresso bar: several cups of coffee a day could halt the progression of liver disease, a study showed Wednesday.

Sufferers of chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drank three or more cups of coffee per day slashed their risk of the disease progressing by 53 percent compared to patients who drank no coffee, the study led by Neal Freedman of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) showed.

For the study, 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial — all of whom had hepatitis C which had not responded to treatment with anti-viral drugs — were asked to report how many cups of coffee they drank every day.

The patients were seen every three months during the 3.8-year study and liver biopsies were taken at 1.5 and 3.5 five years to determine the progression of liver disease.

“We observed an inverse association between coffee intake and liver disease progression,” meaning patients who drank three or more cups of java were less likely to see their liver disease worsen than non-drinkers, wrote the authors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Hepatology.

The researchers put forward several ways in which coffee intake might protect against liver disease, including by reducing the risk of type two diabetes, which has been associated with liver illness; or by reducing inflammation, which is thought to cause fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver.

Even caffeine, the chemical that gives a cup of coffee its oomph, came under the spotlight, having been found in previous studies to inhibit liver cancer in rats.

But drinking black or green tea, which also contain caffeine, had little impact on the progression of liver disease, although there were few tea drinkers in the study.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) three to four million people contract hepatitis C each year. Seventy percent of cases become chronic and can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Genetic Mutation Makes Some People to Rid hepatitis C

A collaborative study led by Johns Hopkins researchers has uncovered a genetic mutation that gives a person the ability to get rid of Hepatitis C without any treatment.

While some of the people with Hepatitis C suffer throughout the life and develop serious liver disease, including cancer, others are able to defeat the infection and get rid of the virus with no treatment.

“If we knew why some people got rid of the disease on their own, then maybe we could figure out ways to help other people who didn’t. Or maybe even help prevent infections entirely,” Nature quoted Dr. David Thomas as saying.

In a previous study, researchers had found a variation in a single chemical of DNA, known as a single-nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP, near the IL28B gene, which while poorly understood, is thought to help the immune response to Hepatitis C viral infection.

People infected with Hepatitis C, who carried the C/C variation SNP near their IL28B gene, were found more likely to respond to hepatitis C treatment, which can rid some patients of the virus.

Thus, the researchers in the current study wondered if the C/C variation-as opposed to the C/T or T/T alternatives-also played a role in some peoples’ ability to get rid of the virus without the help of medication.

So, they assembled information from six different studies that had over many years collected DNA and Hepatitis C infection information from people all over the world.

Then, the team analysed DNA at the IL28B gene from a total of 1008 patients- 620 persistently infected and 388 who had been infected but no longer carried any virus.

DNA analysis revealed that of the 388 patients who no longer carried virus, 264 have the C/C variation.

“This is the strongest clue to date to understanding what would constitute a successful immune response. We don’t yet know the significance of this C variant, but we know we need to do more work to find out what it means and whether it might be helpful to halting the disease,” said Thomas.

The researchers also noticed an intriguing trend- the C/C variant does not appear equally in all populations.

“We wonder if this SNP also explains some of the genetic basis for the population difference of Hepatitis C clearance. It’s been reported that African-Americans are less

Vitamin E Effective For “Silent” Liver Disease


Vitamin E has been shown effective in treating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an obesity-associated chronic liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. NASH also is related to or a part of type 2 diabetes, lipid disorders and cardiovascular disease.

The often asymptomatic condition affects 2 to 5 percent of Americans, although an additional 10 to 20 percent of the population has fat in their liver, but no inflammation or liver damage, a condition called “fatty liver” that is a precursor to NASH. There is no established treatment.

The government-funded multicenter study was organized by the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and is the largest ever placebo-controlled randomized trial of treatment for NASH. Results are published in the April 28 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Beginning in the late 1990s, study of vitamin E for NASH was pioneered in pilot trials by Dr. Joel Lavine, now a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Researchers followed patients at nine centers, including the University of California, San Diego, where Dr. Lavine was previously on faculty.

“There is an increasing prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in this country, something that is directly related to the obesity epidemic,” says Dr. Lavine, co-chair of the Network’s steering committee and a co-author of the study. “The good news is that this study showed that cheap and readily available vitamin E can help many of those with the condition. We also looked at the drug pioglitazone, which showed some benefits, although not as dramatic as with vitamin E.”

Dr. Lavine cautions that there are risks with any therapy, even vitamin E, and all treatment should be done under medical supervision. “Individuals who are overweight or have a family history of liver disease should ask their doctor to be tested for the condition. In addition, physicians should be aware that liver enzyme levels considered normal are actually elevated. Healthy levels are <30 U/L for a man and <20 for a woman.”

In the Pioglitazone or Vitamin E for NASH Study (PIVENS), investigators randomly assigned 247 nondiabetic adults with biopsy-confirmed NASH to receive vitamin E, pioglitazone or placebo. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant while pioglitazone improves the sensitivity of cells to insulin, a hormone that controls both sugar and fat metabolism.

After 96 weeks of treatment, vitamin E improved all features of NASH with the exception of the amount of scar tissue in the liver; 43 percent of those treated with vitamin E met the primary endpoint of the trial, which was a composite of the scores for several features of NASH indicative of disease activity, compared with only 19 percent of those who received a placebo. Pioglitazone also improved many features of NASH and met the primary endpoint in 34 percent of individuals who received it but fell short of statistical significance. Pioglitazone treatment led to an average weight gain of 10 pounds over the 96-week duration of this study. Liver enzyme tests, which are commonly used to assess liver injury, also improved in those who received either pioglitazone or vitamin E. However, upon stopping the medications, the liver enzymes worsened again suggesting the need for long-term treatment.

Introducing – Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a flowering herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for a variety of ailments, especially liver problems.

Common Names—milk thistle, Mary thistle, holy thistle. Milk thistle is sometimes called silymarin, which is actually a mixture of the herb’s active components, including silybinin (also called silibinin or silybin).

Latin NameSilybum marianum

What It Is Used For

Milk thistle is believed to have protective effects on the liver and improve its function. It is typically used to treat liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation), and gallbladder disorders. Treatment claims also include:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Reducing insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis
  • Reducing the growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers

How It Is Used

Silymarin, which can be extracted from the seeds (fruit) of the milk thistle plant, is believed to be the biologically active part of the herb. The seeds are used to prepare capsules, extracts, and infusions (strong teas).

What the Science Says

There have been some studies of milk thistle on liver disease in humans, but these have been small. Some promising data have been reported, but study results at this time are mixed.

  • Although some studies conducted outside the United States support claims of oral milk thistle to improve liver function, there have been flaws in study design and reporting. To date, there is no conclusive evidence to prove its claimed uses.
  • Recent NCCAM-funded research includes a phase II study to better understand the use of milk thistle for chronic hepatitis C. Additional research, cofunded by NCCAM and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, includes studies of milk thistle for chronic hepatitis C and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (liver disease that occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol).
  • The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Nursing Research are also studying milk thistle, for cancer prevention and to treat complications in HIV patients.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • In clinical trials, milk thistle generally has few side effects. Occasionally, people report a laxative effect, upset stomach, diarrhea, and bloating.
  • Milk thistle can produce allergic reactions, which tend to be more common among people who are allergic to plants in the same family (for example, ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, and daisy).
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Coffee May Stop Liver Disease

Coffee May Stop Liver Disease

Researchers have found another good reason to go to the local espresso bar: Several cups of coffee a day could halt the progression of liver disease, a study showed Wednesday.

Sufferers of chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drank three or more cups of coffee per day slashed their risk of the disease progressing by 53 percent compared to patients who drank no coffee, according to the study, led by Neal Freedman of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

For the study, 766 participants enrolled in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial  all of whom had hepatitis C which had not responded to treatment with anti-viral drugs  were asked to report how many cups of coffee they drank every day.

The patients were seen every three months during the 3.8-year study, and liver biopsies were taken periodically to determine the progression of liver disease.

“We observed an inverse association between coffee intake and liver disease progression,” meaning patients who drank three or more cups of java were less likely to see their liver disease worsen than non-drinkers, wrote the authors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Hepatology.

The researchers put forward several ways in which coffee intake might protect against liver disease, including reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, which has been associated with liver illness; or by reducing inflammation, which is thought to cause fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver.

Even caffeine, the chemical that gives a cup of coffee its oomph, came under the spotlight, having been found in previous studies to inhibit liver cancer in rats.

But drinking black or green tea, which also contain caffeine, had little impact on the progression of liver disease, although there were few tea drinkers in the study.

According to the World Health Organization, 3 million to 4 million people contract hepatitis C each year.

Seventy percent of cases become chronic and can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer.