Chinese herbs have been used for centuries on their own and in conjunction with other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure and Ayurveda to prevent hair loss, re-grow hair and restore natural pigment to gray hair.
Castor oil is extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus Communis plant and has been used since time immemorial for a variety of conditions and complaints, including hair and skin care. Treating hair breakage and encouraging hair growth with castor oil has long been recognized in the alternative health field. Cold pressed castor oil is tasteless and odorless when pure. Continue reading →
Many of us have felt that stress was causing us to lose our hair, but a recent study shows that the amount of stress one has experienced can actually be measured in our hair and can be correlated with heart attack risk.
Lead researcher Gideon Koran, professor of pediatric medicine and toxicology at University of Western Ontario, had been studying hair samples of children whose mothers had used cocaine and heroin while pregnant. Fellow researchers measured cortisone levels in the hair samples of body builders who used steroids. Koran began to think that if cortisone from drug use could be measured in hair, then couldn’t cortisone from the results of stress Continue reading →
Unexplained, excessive hair loss can be worrying and scary. The good news is, there’s often a way to fix it. Everyone loses hair. It happens during your morning shower, while you’re blowing it dry, or when you give it a quick brush—and that’s normal. “On average, we lose fifty to a hundred hairs a day,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. “That’s just hair going through its cycles, and there will be a new one to replace it.” But hair loss may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs an evaluation by a dermatologist and possible treatment. Here are six causes of hair loss and how to Continue reading →
LONDON – A special edition of the journal, Clinical Risk, published by the Royal Society of Medicine, looks at how the combination of an under-regulated market, “professional greed”, increased marketing and overwhelming media hype have created a “perfect storm” that threatens patients and practitioners alike. The journal’s editor argues that cosmetic surgery patients in the UK are at more risk than ever before.
DrHarveyMarcovitch, who commissioned leading experts in the field to write for this special issue said, “Patient safety is this journal’s main aim and there can be no area of medicine where patients in the UK are more in need of protection. We need tight control of advertising of cosmetic surgery – including internet advertising. We need proper regulation of the industry and we need both surgeons and GPs to manage patient expectation.”
In one paper, entitled ‘Clinical Risk in Aesthetic Surgery’, NigelMercer, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) argues: “We have reached a stage where public expectation, driven by media hype and, dare one say, professional greed, has brought us to a ‘perfect storm’ in the cosmetic surgical market.”
He adds, “There has been a massive increase in ‘marketing’, including discount vouchers, 2-for-1 offers and holidays with surgery! In no other area of medicine is there such an unregulated mess. What is worse is that national governments would not allow it to happen in other areas of medicine. Imagine a ‘2-for-1’ advert for general surgery? That way lies madness!”
Clinical Risk in Aesthetic Surgery: NigelMercer discusses the role of the media and advertising and calls for tighter regulations in the UK, comparing this country’s lack of regulation with the Food and Drug Administration’s role in the US.
– “Perhaps, like tobacco, there should be a Europe-wide ban on advertising all cosmetic ‘surgical’ procedures, including on search engines…”.
– “If we have to sell anything, we should sell our advice, not procedures. If we cannot self-regulate, then, like the financial institutions, regulation will eventually be imposed…”
– “All cosmetic treatments are medical interventions, and every medical intervention has a complication and failure rate. Consequently, there are no ‘consumers’ or ‘clients’ but only ‘patients’…”
– “Perhaps the single most important factor in reducing clinical risk in cosmetic surgery is the motive for performing any procedure must never be financial gain, so I suggest we get our act together as an industry as we are in grave danger of biting the hand that feeds us.”
France Sets Standards for Practice of Aesthetic Surgery: French consultant plastic surgeon, AlainFogli describes the strictly defined guidelines for cosmetic surgery in France which include:
– Surgical procedures can only be undertaken by surgeons who are registered specialists and deemed competent. Possession of a general medical degree, and the fact that the practitioner is ‘experienced’ are not deemed to be sufficient qualifications
– A ban on all forms and methods of publicity and advertising, direct or indirect, in whatever form, including the Internet
Minimizing Risk in Aesthetic Surgery: Foad Nahai, President of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) and former president of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) describes how to minimise risk in each facet of ‘the safety diamond’: patient, facility, procedure and surgeon.
He tells readers:
“Regulations governing the training of all cosmetic surgeons are sorely needed. Governments are reluctant to become involved, as they see this issue as a ‘turf battle’ between various physician groups and not a public safety or patient safety issue. However, there is no question that this is a patient safety issue of paramount importance and I take our governments to task for not addressing it.”
– Since by law any physician is allowed to practise cosmetic surgery, attempts by individual physicians or plastic surgery organisations to restrict those who are not qualified is viewed as a restraint of trade.
Improving the Safety of Aesthetic Surgery: Recommendations Following a 14-Year Review of Cases to the Medical Defence Union (1990-2004): Consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS Secretary, RajivGrover, reveals a 14-year audit of claims to the MDU which shows why patients sue. He provides recommendations to avoid these situations such as careful pre-operative counselling, thorough documentation and exploring with the patient what degree of correction and scarring is realistic – and not being falsely optimistic about the likely outcome.
Managing Risk to Reputation: MagnusBoyd, Partner at leading UK solicitors, Carter-Ruck suggests how doctors can protect their reputation and how the media can influence the outcome of a professional investigation or the expression of anger from a disgruntled patient.
Both DrHarveyMarcovitch and MrNigelMercer are available for comment.
The journal Clinical Risk aims to give both medical and legal professionals an enhanced understanding of key medico-legal issues relating to risk management and patient safety, through authoritative articles, reviews and news on the management of clinical risk. The AvMA Medical and Legal Journal and the Healthcare & Law Digest, both included within Clinical Risk, contain articles on current medico-legal issues and reports on a wide range of recently settled clinical negligence cases.
SYDNEY – An Australian Government funded research group has developed a potential new material that can make early diagnosis of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer possible.
Writing about their work in the ACS’ Journal of the Medicinal Chemistry, the Cooperative Research Consortium for Biomedical Imaging Develop has revealed that the novel material is currently being tested in laboratory animals.
IvanGreguric, a group member, notes that about 130,000 new cases of malignant melanoma occur each year worldwide.
Although patients do best with early diagnosis and prompt treatment, according to the researcher, the positron emission tomography (PET) scans sometimes used for diagnosis sometimes miss small cancers, delaying diagnosis and treatment.
While searching for better ways of diagnosis, the researchers identified a new group of radioactive imaging agents, known as fluoronicotinamides.
Testing it on laboratory mice that had melanoma, the researchers observed that the novel substance revealed skin cancer cells with greater accuracy than imaging agents currently in use.
Consequently, note the researchers, this substance may become a “superior” PET imaging agent for improving the diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment of melanoma.
They have revealed that clinical trials with this new agent are scheduled for 2010.
BUDAPEST — It was a night for unnatural beauties. Contestants showed off breast implants, nose jobs and face lifts as Miss Plastic Hungary 2009 strove to promote the benefits of plastic surgery in a country where artificial enhancements are viewed mostly with a wary eye.
“I think this competition is long overdue,” said photographer MartonSzipal, one of the pageant judges. “Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it’s time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. TamasRozsos said the pageant also meant to show that cosmetic corrections did not necessarily have to be about oversized breasts, bulbous lips and skin stretched to near tearing point.
“This about restoring harmony … eliminating asymmetries and giving women the opportunity to have normal features,” Rozsos said. “Plastic surgery has a bad reputation in Hungary but its mostly due to the exaggerations.”
Despite Hungary having been hit hard by the global economic crisis with the government forced to scale back spending on health services, Rozsos said that the number of surgeries had been rising year by year.
“People for whom this is important always find the money,” Rozsos said.
To qualify for the pageant, the 18 Hungarian residents had to prove they’d gone fully under the knife — mere Botox or collagen injections did not count. Nearly all the contestants showed off augmented breasts, with reshaped noses also popular. One finalist had surgically adjusted toes.
Organizers claimed contestants were expected to show “a perfect harmony of body and soul,” but the three-part pageant concentrated almost exclusively on the women’s physical attributes and the usually conspicuous wishes for world peace went missing.
MissPlastic candidates were at least 18 years old and included a former rhythmic gymnast, a firefighter married to a police officer, a mother of three and several strippers. There was a special category for women over 30.
Pageant queen Reka Urban, a 22-year-old hostess, won an apartment in Budapest, first runner-up Edina Kulcsar was given a new car and second runner-up AlexandraHorvath took home diamond jewelry worth 2 million forints ($10,800). The winners’ plastic surgeons also received awards.
CHARLOTTE– A new study has revealed that regular exercise can help keep prostate cancer at bay.
According to researchers at Duke University Medical Centre, those who were moderately active – anything equivalent to walking at a moderate pace for several hours a week – were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
They analysed 190 men who had a prostate biopsy and found that 58 percent of the men exercised less than the equivalent of one hour per week of easy walking, reports chinaview.cn
The study also showed that exercise was associated with less aggressive disease in men who did develop prostate cancer.
“As the amount of exercise increased, the risk of cancer decreased,” said lead author Dr.JodiAntonelli, a urology researcher at the centre.
Bilberry fruit is a close relative to the American blueberry. It’s a common ingredient in pies, cakes and jams. The active constituents are thought to be antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Why Do People Use Bilberry
Bilberry is primarily used for eye conditions and to strengthen blood vessels. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots reportedly found that eating bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision which prompted researchers to investigate bilberry’s properties.
Bilberry is also used for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.
The anthocyanins in bilberry may strengthen the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation and stabilize tissues containing collagen, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Grape seed contains similar substances, however, bilberry’s anthocyanins are thought to have particular benefits for the eye.
Because bilberry is thought to strengthen blood vessels, it’s sometimes taken orally for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
White willow bark is a tree native to Europe and Asia. The name “white willow” comes from the color of the leaves, which are covered with fine white hairs.
The use of white willow bark medicinally goes far back. Ancient Egyptians used white willow for inflammation. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about white willow’s medicinal uses in 5th century B.C.
In 1829, scientists in Europe identified what was believed to be the active ingredient in white willow bark—a compound called salicin. Public demand grew rapidly.
Extracting salicin from herbs was considered to be expensive and time-consuming, so a synthetic salicylic acid version was developed in Germany in 1852 and quickly became the treatment of choice (salicin is converted in the body to salicylic acid).
The problem was that it was harder on the stomach. At therapeutic doses, people using the synthetic salicyclic acid developed stomach ulcers and bleeding.
The German company Bayer eventually created a synthetic, less harsh derivative of salicylic acid, called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and mass-produced it under the name aspirin. Despite this, aspirin is still known for irritating the stomach lining.
Why do people use white willow bark?
White willow bark is used for conditions that cause pain, inflammation, or fever, such as:
* Acute back pain
* Joint pain
People take white willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not appear to be as irritating to the stomach lining. It may be because the salicin found naturally in white willow bark is only converted to the acid form after it is absorbed by the stomach.
Researchers have also suggested that white willow bark is more effective than aspirin because of other active compounds that are found in the bark but not the drug. Animal research at Cairo University compared a willow bark extract to ASA and found that a willow bark extract was as effective as aspirin in reducing inflammation, even though the salicin content was lower than an equivalent dose of ASA.
What research has been done on white willow bark?
* In a German study, the effectiveness of a willow bark extract providing 240 mg of salicin a day was compared to placebo in a 2-week randomized controlled trial in 78 people with osteoarthritis. After two weeks, the willow bark patients’ pain scores were reduced by 14% compared to the placebo group, which had a 2% increase in pain scores.
* A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Medicine examined the use of 120 mg or 240 mg salicin or placebo in 210 patients with an low back pain. In the fourth and final week of the study, 39% of the group taking 240 mg salicin were pain-free for at least 5 days, compared to 21% in the 120 mg group and only 6% in the placebo group.
* Two randomized controlled 6-week trials investigated the effectiveness and safety of willow bark in 127 patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and 26 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the osteoarthritis trial, patients received either willow bark providing 240 mg of salicin a day, 100 mg a day of the drug diclofenac, or a placebo. Patients in the rheumatoid arthritis trial received either willow bark or a placebo. The results found that the drug diclofenac was more effective than placebo in osteoarthritis patients but white willow bark was not. In rheumatoid arthritis patients, willow bark wasn’t found to be more effective than placebo.
Studies have used white willow bark extracts that provide 120 mg to 240 mg of salicin per day.
Because white willow bark contains salicylates, the same precautions as aspirin should be taken until research has shown otherwise. The following people should not take white willow bark:
* People with an aspirin allergy or sensitivity. There has been a published report of a 25 year old woman who was admitted to emergency with anaphylaxis after taking 2 capsules of a weight loss supplement that contained willow bark. The patient had a history of allergy to acetylsalicylic acid. No other possible causes for anaphylaxis were identified in that patient.
* People with peptic ulcer disease or kidney disease.
* The herbs ginkgo, vitamin E, and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding if combined with white willow.
* People with hyperuricemia, gout, and asthma.
* Children and teenagers, especially with flu-like symptoms, chicken pox, or Reye’s syndrome.
* Pregnant or nursing women.
White willow bark should be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.
There have been few reported side effects. However, the same side effects as aspirin may theoretically occur, especially at higher doses: ringing in the ears, ulcers, stomach burning, pain, cramping, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity, rash, dizziness, and kidney impairment.
PORTLAND- Natural compounds present in plants and some vegetables may help treat cancer even more effectively, when used side-by-side with chemotherapy drugs, according to new research.
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer has found that chlorophyllin-a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy-is, on a dose-by-dose basis, 10 times more potent at causing death of colon cancer cells than the chemotherapeutic drug hydroxyurea.
Experts in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University say that the study has also shown that chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism.
Based on that finding, the researchers suggest that it may be possible to developed to have a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages.
“We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents,” the researchers wrote in their study report.
They, however, stressed the need for both in laboratory and animal studies, with combinations of chlorophyllin and existing cancer drugs, before it would be appropriate for human trials.
Other studies published in the journals Carcinogenesis and Cancer Prevention Research have explored the role of organic selenium compounds in killing human prostate and colon cancer cells.
During the studies, a form of organic selenium found naturally in garlic and Brazil nuts was converted in cancer cells to metabolites that acted as “HDAC inhibitors” – a promising field of research in which silenced tumor suppressor genes are re-activated, triggering cancer cell death.
Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program in the Linus Pauling Institute, says that the concept of combining conventional or new cancer drugs with natural compounds, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties, is very promising.
“Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process. We’re now identifying such mechanisms of action for natural compounds, including dietary agents. With further research we may be able to make the two approaches work together to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies,” Dashwood said.
PARIS – A team of French scientists has possibly identified just the right dose of DHA acid that prevents heart disease in healthy men.
This study is the first to identify how much DHA or docosahexaenoic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) is necessary to promote optimal heart health.
Scientists show that a 200 mg daily dose of DHA is enough to affect biochemical markers that reliably predict cardiovascular problems, such as those related to aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.
“This study shows that regularly consuming small amounts of DHA is likely to improve the health status of people, especially in regards to cardiovascular function,” said MichelLagarde, co-author of the study.
Lagarde and colleagues examined the effects of increasing doses of DHA on 12 healthy male volunteers aged between 53 and 65.
These men consumed doses of DHA at 200, 400, 800, and 1600 mg per day for two weeks for each dose amount, with DHA being the only omega-3 fatty acid in their diet.
Blood and urine samples were collected before and after each dose and at eight weeks after DHA supplementation stopped.
Researchers then examined these samples for biochemical markers indicating the effects of each dose on the volunteers.
“Now that we have a very good idea about how much DHA is just right, the next step is to try it out in an expanded clinical trial that involves many more people,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which is slated to publish the report.
“Until then, I’ll stick with tasty foods that contain DHA, like fish, rather than getting a quick fatty-acid fix at the local vitamin store,” Weissmann said.
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 Name—Silybum 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.
PORTLAND – Natural food compounds, previously studied for their ability to prevent cancer, may play a more potent role in treating it, says a new study.
Conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University (OSU), the study found that chlorophyllin (water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll) was 10 times more effective in killing colon cancer cells than hydroxyurea, a drug commonly used in cancer treatment.
Moreover, chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism, according to an OSU release.
This opens the possiblity of developing other cocktails of natural products, to produce a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages, researchers said.
The concept of combining conventional cancer drugs with natural compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties is very promising, said Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program at the institute.
Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process, Dashwood said.
We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents, the researchers wrote.
Chlorophyllin is a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll — the green pigment found in most plants and many food products that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy.
The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting. The body can store fat-soluble vitamins in fatty tissue.
Viatmin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood would not clot. Some studies indicate that it helps in maintaining strong bones in the elderly.
Vitamin K is found in cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, cereals, soybeans, and other vegetables. Vitamin K is also made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract.
Vitamin K deficiency is very rare. It occurs when the body can’t properly absorb the vitamin from the intestinal tract. Vitamin K deficiency can also occur after long-term treatment with antibiotics.
Individuals with vitamin K deficiency are usually more likely to have bruising and bleeding.
Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for vitamin K:
* 0 – 6 months: 2.0 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
* 7 – 12 months: 2.5 mcg/day
* 1 – 3 years: 30 mcg/day
* 4 – 8 years: 55 mcg/day
* 9 – 13 years: 60 mcg/day
Adolescents and Adults
* Males and females age 14 – 18: 75 mcg/day
* Males and females age 19 and older: 90 mcg/day
If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you should know that vitamin K or foods containing vitamin K can affect how the drug works. Ask your health care provider how much vitamin K or vitamin K-containing foods you should consume.