Coenzyme Q10, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and Vitamin E May Benefit Diabetics With Chronic Complications

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living

Supplementation With Coenzyme Q10, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and Vitamin E May Benefit Diabetics With Chronic Complications

Reference: “Complementary therapy in diabetic patients with chronic complications: a pilot study,” Palacka P, Gvozdjakova A, et al, Bratisl Lek Listy, 2010; 111(4): 205-11. (Address: Comenius University, Medical Faculty, Pharmacobiochemical Laboratory of 3rd Medical Clinic, Bratislava, Slovakia. E-mail: ).

Summary: In a pilot study involving 59 diabetic patients with chronic complications, results indicate that combined supplementation with coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin E, along with polarized light (PL) therapy may exert beneficial effects. The patients were randomized to 1 of 3 groups for 3 months – 1) PL group (n = 19): PL was applied to neuropathic ulcers of diabetic foot twice daily; 2) Antioxidant group (n=20): received daily supplementation with 60 mg of hydrosoluble CoQ10, 100 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and 200 mg of vitamin E; 3) PL+Antioxidant (n=20): received both PL and antioxidants.

At intervention end, decrease in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity was found in the PL group, improvement in echocardiographic parameters was found in the antioxidant group, and decrease in LDH activity and improvement in heart left ventricular function was observed in the PL+antioxidant group. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “Thus the data show that support ive therapy with PL along with the antioxidants hydrosoluble CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin E is an effective way of controlling the complications of type 2 diabetes.”

Supplementation With Grape Seed Extract May Benefit Patients With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living

Supplementation With Grape Seed Extract May Benefit Patients With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Reference: “Grape seed extract to improve liver function in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver change,” Khoshbaten M, Najafipoor F, et al, Saudi J Gastroenterol, 2010; 16(3): 194-7. (Address: Department of Drug Applied Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Iran).

Summary: In a controlled study involving 30 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), results indicate that supplementation with grape seed extract may exert beneficial effects. The patients were randomized to grape seed extract or vitamin C (1000 mg / 12 hours) for 3 months. At intervention end, serum levels of ALT (alanine aminotransferase) decreased significantly in patients treated with GSE when compared to controls (vitamin C group). Additionally, grape seed extract supplementation significantly improved grade of steatosis. Thus, the authors conclude, “This study describes the beneficial effect of using grape seed extract for three months in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. These results may improve with a longer period of follow-up.”

Calcium Supplementation May Improve Body Composition in Postmenopausal Women

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living

Calcium Supplementation May Improve Body Composition in Postmenopausal Women

Reference: “The effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on obesity in postmenopausal women: secondary analysis for a large-scale, placebo controlled, double-blind, 4-year longitudinal clinical trial,” Zhou J, Lappe JM, et al, Nutr Metab (Lond), 2010; 7(1): 62. (Address: 601 North 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131, USA. E-mail: ).

Summary: In a population-based, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study involving 870 postmenopausal women, results indicate that long-term calcium supplementation may exert a beneficial effect on body composition. The women were randomized to one of three groups for a period of 4 years: 1) Ca-group: received calcium supplementation (1400 mg/d or 1500 mg/d) + vitamin D placebo; 2) Ca+D group: received supplementation with calcium (1400 mg/d or 1500 mg/d) plus vitamin D (1100 IU/d); 3) placebo group: received two placebos. At intervention end, the calcium supplemented groups showed less gain in trunk fat and more trunk lean compared with the placebo group. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “Calcium supplementation over four years has a beneficial effect on body composition in postmenopausal women.”

Plant compound resveratrol shown to suppresses inflammation, free radicals in humans

January 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living, Holistic Nutrition

Plant compound resveratrol shown to suppresses inflammation, free radicals in humans

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Resveratrol, a popular plant extract shown to prolong life in yeast and lower animals due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, appears also to suppress inflammation in humans, based on results from the first prospective human trial of the extract conducted by University at Buffalo endocrinologists.

Results of the study appear as a rapid electronic publication on the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism website and will be published in an upcoming print issue of the journal.

The paper also has been selected for inclusion in Translational Research in Endocrinology & Metabolism, a new online anthology that highlights the latest clinical applications of cutting-edge research from the journals of the Endocrine Society.

Resveratrol is a compound produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi, and is found in the skin of red grapes and red wine. It also is produced by chemical synthesis derived primarily from Japanese knotweed and is sold as a nutritional supplement.

Husam Ghanim, PhD, UB research assistant professor of medicine and first author on the study, notes that resveratrol has been shown to prolong life and to reduce the rate of aging in yeast, roundworms and fruit flies, actions thought to be affected by increased expression of a particular gene associated with longevity.

The compound also is thought to play a role in insulin resistance as well, a condition related to oxidative stress, which has a significant detrimental effect on overall health.

“Since there are no data demonstrating the effect of resveratrol on oxidative and inflammatory stress in humans,” says Paresh Dandona, MD, PhD, UB distinguished professor of medicine and senior author on the study, “we decided to determine if the compound reduces the level of oxidative and inflammatory stress in humans.

“Several of the key mediators of insulin resistance also are pro-inflammatory, so we investigated the effect of resveratrol on their expression as well.”

The study was conducted at Kaleida Health’s Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York, which Dandona directs.

A nutritional supplement containing 40 milligrams of resveratrol was used as the active product. Twenty participants were randomized into two groups of 10: one group received the supplement, while the other group received an identical pill containing no active ingredient. Participants took the pill once a day for six weeks. Fasting blood samples were collected as the start of the trial and at weeks one, three and six.

Results showed that resveratrol suppressed the generation of free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, unstable molecules known to cause oxidative stress and release proinflammatory factors into the blood stream, resulting in damage to the blood vessel lining.

Blood samples from persons taking resveratrol also showed suppression of the inflammatory protein tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and other similar compounds that increase inflammation in blood vessels and interfere with insulin action, causing insulin resistance and the risk of developing diabetes.

These inflammatory factors, in the long term, have an impact on the development of type 2 diabetes, aging, heart disease and stroke, noted Dandona.

Blood samples from the participants who received the placebo showed no change in these pro-inflammatory markers.

While these results are promising, Dandona added a caveat: The study didn’t eliminate the possibility that something in the extract other than resveratrol was responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects.

“The product we used has only 20 percent resveratrol, so it is possible that something else in the preparation is responsible for the positive effects. These agents could be even more potent than resveratrol. Purer preparations now are available and we intend to test those.”

Additional contributors to the study, all from Dandona’s laboratory, are Chang Ling Sia, Sanaa Abuaysheh, Kelly Korzeniewski, Priyanka Patniak, MD, Anuritha Marumganti, MD, and Ajay Chaudhuri, MD.

The study was supported in part by grants to Dandona from the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association.

Microbes in Our Gut Regulate Genes That Control Obesity and Inflammation

January 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living

ScienceDaily (Jan. 14, 2011) — If you are looking to lose weight in the coming year, you may need help from an unexpected place: the bacteria in your gut. That’s because scientists have discovered that the bacteria living in your intestines may play a far more significant role in weight loss and gastrointestinal problems than ever imagined.

In a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal, researchers show that a deficiency of Toll-like receptor 2 (Tlr2) — used by mammals (including humans) to recognize resident microbes in the intestines — leads to changes in gut bacteria that resemble those of lean animals and humans. This discovery builds on previous research demonstrating that a deficiency of TLR2 protects against obesity, while at the same time promoting gastrointestinal problems like excessive inflammation. It also shows that genes controlling TLR2 expression play a very important role in one’s gastrointestinal health and weight management.

“Our work highlights the remarkable capacity for an orchestrated reprogramming of the intestinal inflammatory network to overcome significant genetic challenges in the mammalian bowel,” said Richard Kellermayer, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “The appropriate exploitation of this remarkable capacity may provide means for the prevention and optimized treatment of common metabolic (such as obesity and diabetes) and gastrointestinal disorders.”

To make this discovery, Kellermayer and colleagues studied normal mice and mice deficient in TLR2 using the large intestinal lining of these mice. They compared the TLR2-deficient ones to the normal group, as well as the bacteria, the epigenome (more specifically DNA methylation, a molecular change in the DNA associated with decreased gene expression), and the gene expression of the animals. The researchers found that the absence of TLR2 leads to microbial changes in the gut that resemble lean animals and humans, as well as immunologic changes similar to those observed in ulcerative colitis.

“Every New Year, a significant percentage of us resolve ourselves to lose weight,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “but national statistics on obesity show that we’re failing fast. This research linking gut bacteria to TLR2 expression opens entirely new doors for weight control solutions, first by cementing TLR2 as a drug target for obesity, and second by providing further evidence that managing gut bacteria may be an important and effective way to control weight. The challenge, of course, is to find a way to tip the scales just enough to keep weight under control without causing serious gastrointestinal problems.”

Beyond Brain Health by Chris D. Meletis, ND

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Healthy Living

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a popular spice that has been used for centuries in Southeastern Asia and India; curcumin, the main constituent of turmeric, is the main flavoring agent in curry dishes. Turmeric and curcumin have been studied extensively for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of health concerns.

It is important for any natural health-promoting substance to have the ability to transit through the digestive process and arrive intact in clinically meaningful levels in the blood, where the substance carries out its effects in the body. Researchers from UCLA have been able to resolve this challenge by increasing the bioavailability of curcumin in a unique form known as Longvida®. As was mentioned in the November issue of Vitamin Research News, in clinical studies, Longvida shows demonstrably increased levels achieved in the blood stream, and perhaps even more important is the ability of this breakthrough form of curcumin to cross the blood-brain barrier.1 (The blood-brain barrier is composed of a specialized layer of cells that restricts the passage of many substances from the general circulation into the brain. It presents a challenge in the treatment of brain conditions as it limits the ability of many therapeutic agents to enter the brain.)

This ability to optimize the absorption of curcumin is important in that curcumin’s benefits are multifactorial, and it may perhaps be one of the most scientifically researched natural compounds as literally thousands of studies investigating its effects have been carried out. This article will serve as a review of some of curcumin’s most promising qualities,2 several of which will be highlighted below.

Neurological Health

Curcumin’s influence on the brain is mainly attributed to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects; however, other mechanisms are apparent as well.3 In animal models of cognitive dysfunction, curcumin administration lowered amyloid beta (Abeta) (the principle component of senile plaques that are the driving pathology in brain disorders) by slowing the production of amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP).4 Curcumin will also bind to the Abeta fibrils and aggregates5 where it may have a direct effect on decreasing amyloid pathology.6 The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-amyloid activity of curcumin in cognitive health makes it a promising area of research.7

In mood balancing, curcumin is thought to have potential clinical usefulness because of its ability to 1) Inhibit monoamine oxidase and thereby enhance the release of serotonin and dopamine and 2) Enhance neurogenesis, namely in the frontal cortex and hippocampus.8-9 Several animal studies highlight the benefits of curcumin in improving mood; curcumin boosted monoamine oxidase inhibition, enhanced serotonin and dopamine levels and reversed stress-related behaviors.10-12 Additional animal studies show a protective effect of curcumin against seizures as well; the neuroprotective and antioxidative effects are thought to be responsible.13-15

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Inflammation is widely used as a term to loosely define pathological immunologic effects. Overexpression of inflammatory pathways is undoubtedly associated with many disease processes. Curcumin exhibits a number of anti-inflammatory effects, and it has been studied in lung health and immune challenges. Controlling inflammation occurs at numerous levels; a number of studies have elucidated key areas where curcumin has an effective role in thwarting specific inflammatory processes thereby resulting in positive clinical outcomes.

Lung Health

In asthmatic mouse models, curcumin decreased the total number of leukocytes (white blood cells, a component of inflammation) and eosinophils (additional allergy-mediating cells) in lung fluid. Additionally, other inflammatory cells and mucus occlusion in lung tissues were decreased as well as IgE (a primary immunological mediator of allergy) in the lung fluid. Investigators of this study conclude that curcumin produced these positive effects through inhibition of NF-kappaB.16

Curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory effects stem from its ability to modulate T and B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic and natural killer cells. It also down regulates the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukins 1, 2, 6, 7 and 12, and NF-kappaB as previously mentioned.17

Curcumin is a direct free radical scavenger in the lung tissue (and elsewhere), and can down regulate other pro-inflammatory mediators including matrix metalloproteinase, adhesion molecules and growth factor receptor genes, thereby exerting antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects in the lungs.18

As an adjunctive therapy to standard corticosteroid treatment in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), curcumin shows promise as well. Histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC-2) is an enzyme that plays a major role in how corticosteroids work; its function is decreased in circumstances of steroid insensitivity, and oxidative stress further compromises its function. Curcumin improves HDAC activity and thereby restores corticosteroid function.19

Joint Function

Curcumin also shows benefit in joint health. Animals with arthritis who were given curcumin experienced a dose-related suppression in arthritic signs and symptoms; markers such as infiltration of immune cells, synovial hyperplasia (thickening of inner joint tissue), destruction of cartilage and bone erosion were all halted by curcumin.20 Additionally, matrix metalloproteinases 1 and 3 (MMP-1, MMP-3) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-stimulated chondrocytes and fibroblasts (diseased joint cells) were also inhibited by curcumin in a dose dependent manner.

Furthermore, in an animal model of osteoarthritis, curcumin significantly decreased interleukin-1beta stimulated release of glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) with increasing doses to pre-experimental levels.21 In a similarly designed study using human chondrocytes (cartilage cells found in joints), curcumin inhibited several inflammatory markers including nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, interleukins 6 and 8 and MMP-3 all in direct relationship to the dose used.22 Curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory effects on chondrocytes support its use in joint health.

Specific Organ Health

Curcumin and its metabolites offer protection for a variety of conditions and organ systems. At the root of curcumin’s efficacy in these areas are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects, as previously discussed. The following are a few brief areas where curcumin research has provided some valuable insight into its protective effects.

Kidney and Liver

Tetrahydrocurcumin (THU1) is one of curcumin’s major metabolites and shows some of the highest antioxidative activity. THU1 has been shown to improve 2 major kidney functions, creatinine and urea clearance; it is also supportive in kidney health after kidney transplants. In the liver, previous studies have shown reduced liver damage from iron, aflatoxin- and benzo[a]pyrene- induced mutagenicity.23

Cardiovascular System

The effects of curcumin have been widely researched in the cardiovascular system. Benefits of curcumin here include diminished cardiotoxicity from Adriamycin (a chemotherapeutic drug) and supporting a healthy heart in diabetic patients. Curcumin’s anti-thrombotic (anti-clotting), anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects may also protect the health of the arteries and heart. Other effects include lessening the development of cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement) and heart failure in animals, and supporting healthy atrial and ventricular heart rhythm.24

Through other avenues of effect, curcumin may preserve heart muscle function after ischemic (lack of oxygen) or biochemical damage to the heart. Also, curcumin decreases the extent of cardiovascular remodeling in experimental models of pressure overload (when the pressure from the circulation is excessive on the heart it damages the muscle).25


The medical literature contains thousands of studies investigating the role of curcumin in health. Curcumin’s health benefits are wide ranging, and this brief review only provides a fraction of the data concerning curcumin.


1. Frautschy SA et al. Efficacy of curcumin formulations in relation to systemic availability in the brain and different blood compartments in neuroinflammatory and AD models at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, Chicago, October 2009.

2. Srivastava RM, Singh S, Dubey SK, et al. Immunomodulatory and therapeutic activity of curcumin. Int Immunopharmacol. 2010 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Kulkarni SK, Dhir A. An overview of curcumin in neurological disorders. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Mar;72(2):149-54.

4. Zhang C, Browne A, Child D, Tanzi RE. Curcumin decreases amyloid-beta peptide levels by attenuating the maturation of amyloid-beta precursor protein. J Biol Chem. 2010 Sep 10;285(37):28472-80. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

5. Yanagisawa D, Shirai N, Amatsubo T, et al. Relationship between the tautomeric structures of curcumin derivatives and their Abeta-binding activities in the context of therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Biomaterials. 2010 May;31(14):4179-85.

6. Ringman JM, Frautschy SA, Cole GM, et al. A potential role of the curry spice curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2005 Apr;2(2):131-6.

7. Frautschy SA, Cole GM. Why pleiotropic interventions are needed for Alzheimer’s disease. Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Jun;41(2-3):392-409. Epub 2010 May 2.

8. Kulkarni S, Dhir A, Akula KK. Potentials of curcumin as an antidepressant. ScientificWorld Journal. 2009 Nov 1;9:1233-41.

9. Xu Y, Ku B, Cui L, et al Curcumin reverses impaired hippocampal neurogenesis and increases serotonin receptor 1A mRNA and brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in chronically stressed rats. Brain Res. 2007 Aug 8;1162:9-18. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

10. Bhutani MK, Bishnoi M, Kulkarni SK. Anti-depressant like effect of curcumin and its combination with piperine in unpredictable chronic stress-induced behavioral, biochemical and neurochemical changes. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Mar;92(1):39-43. Epub 2008 Oct 25.

11. Wang R, Xu Y, Wu HL, et al. The antidepressant effects of curcumin in the forced swimming test involve 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 receptors. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Jan 6;578(1):43-50. Epub 2007 Sep 19.

12. Xu Y, Ku BS, Yao HY, et al. The effects of curcumin on depressive-like behaviors in mice. Eur J Pharma col. 2005 Jul 25;518(1):40-6.

13. Bharal N, Sahaya K, Jain S, et al. Curcumin has anticonvulsant activity on increasing current electroshock seizures in mice. Phytother Res. 2008 Dec;22(12):1660-4.

14. Jyoti A, Sethi P, Sharma D. Curcumin protects against electrobehavioral progression of seizures in the iron-induced experimental model of epileptogenesis. Epilepsy Behav. 2009 Feb;14(2):300-8. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

15. Sumanont Y, Murakami Y, Tohda M, et al. Prevention of kainic acid-induced changes in nitric oxide level and neuronal cell damage in the rat hippocampus by manganese complexes of curcumin and diacetylcurcumin. Life Sci. 2006 Mar 13;78(16):1884-91. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

16. Oh SW, Cha JY, Jung JE, et al. Curcumin attenuates allergic airway inflammation and hyper-responsiveness in mice through NF-kappaB inhibition J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jul 17. [Epub ahead of print]

17. Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB. “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin. J Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;27(1):19-35. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

18. Biswas S, Rahman I. Modulation of steroid activity in chronic inflammation: a novel anti-inflammatory role for curcumin. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Sep;52(9):987-94.

19. Marwick JA, Ito K, Adcock IM, Kirkham PA. Oxidative stress and steroid resistance in asthma and COPD: pharmacological manipulation of HDAC-2 as a therapeutic strategy. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2007 Jun;11(6):745-55.

20. Mun SH, Kim HS, Kim JW, et al. Oral administration of curcumin suppresses production of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 to ameliorate collagen-induced arthritis: inhibition of the PKCdelta/JNK/c-Jun pathway. J Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Sep;111(1):13-21.

21. Clutterbuck AL, Mobasheri A, Shakibaei M, et al. Interleukin-1beta-induced extracellular matrix degradation and glycosaminoglycan release is inhibited by curcumin in an explant model of cartilage inflammation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug;1171:428-35.

22. Mathy-Hartert M, Jacquemond-Collet I, Priem F, et al. Curcumin inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators and metalloproteinase-3 production by chondrocytes. Inflamm Res. 2009 Dec;58(12):899-908. Epub 2009 Jul 5.

23. Osawa T. Nephroprotective and hepatoprotective effects of curcuminoids. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:407-23.

24. Wongcharoen W, Phrommintikul A. The protective role of curcumin in cardiovascular diseases. Int J Cardiol. 2009 Apr 3;133(2):145-51. Epub 2009 Feb 23.

25. Srivastava G, Mehta JL. Currying the heart: curcumin and cardioprotection. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Mar;14(1):22-7. Epub 2009 Jan 18.


October 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

A study that contained three parts was performed and published in the Lancet (November 20, 1982:1115-1117) looked at food sensitivity and its role in IBS. In one study, 25 patients with IBS followed a strict elimination diet. For one week their entire diet consisted of one kind of meat and a single fruit. If the IBS symptoms abated, they were to reintroduce one food per day until symptoms occurred. If it seemed that the food created the symptoms, the subjects were challenged with it on three different occasions. Six of the IBS patients were symptom free while on the elimination diet in the first part of the study. They were hospitalized for four days and given only foods that did not cause IBS symptoms, eating the same menu each day. Breakfast was given as a double-blind food challenge.

In the third part of the study, five of the patients were admitted for four days on two different occasions that were four weeks apart. Twice each day the subjects received the food that triggered symptoms disguised and hidden in a soup. Foods that commonly triggered symptoms included wheat, corn, dairy, coffee, tea and citrus. The double-blind and single-blind challenges in the second

and third parts of the study confirmed that the foods triggered symptoms. Plasma glucose, histamine, immune complexes, haematocrit, eosinophil count, or breath hydrogen excretion did not change after challenge or control foods. Rectal prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) did increase, and in a further 5 patients rectal PGE2 correlated with wet faecal weight. Food intolerance associated with prostaglandin production is an important factor in the pathogenesis of IBS.

Research appearing in the Journal

of the American College of Nutrition

(2006; 25(6): 514-22) combined food elimination with probiotics to treat 20 subjects with IBS (according to Rome II criteria). The patients had not responded to standard medical therapies. The elimination diet was based on results from IgE and IgG blood tests for allergies. A stool analysis was also performed. All of the patients had food sensitivities and dysbiotic bacteria according to these tests. In a one-year follow-up, it was found that following a rotation diet was beneficial to these patients.

Source: Biotics Research


October 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Anticoagulation medication (preventing clots) works by blocking the body’s utilization of vitamin K. Generally, people on the medication are advised to avoid food and supplements that contain vitamin K. Research appearing in Blood (1 November 2004, Vol. 104, No. 9, pp. 2682-2689) looked at the effect vitamin K supplementation had on healthy subjects who were stably taking anticoagulant medication. The subjects were given vitamin K1 supplements, starting with 50 mcg per day for a week and gradually increasing the dosage each week. They found that doses of less than 150 mcg per day had no effect on the drug therapy and that meals containing foods high in vitamin K also had no effect. At doses greater than 150 mcg per day, the “International Normalized Ratio” (INR) would decrease. A reduction in the INR means that the blood is clotting more readily. The authors concluded that eating foods high in vitamin K (like spinach and broccoli) or taking a multiple vitamin that was high in vitamin K, did not interfere with anticoagulant drugs. Other research appearing in Blood (15 March 2007, Vol. 109, No. 6, pp. 2419-2423.) found that patients who were not stable on warfarin treatment (meaning that there was great variation in INR values) tended to be deficient in vitamin K. In the study, patients were given either a placebo or 150 mcg of vitamin K for six months. The group receiving the vitamin K experienced a lower variation in the PNI compared to the placebo group. Of course, those on warfarin therapy should discuss these issues with a doctor and not try to self medicate with supplements.

Source: Biotics Research

AHP Releases Monograph Standards and Therapeutic Compendium for Echinacea pallida Root (Echinacea pallida (Nutt.)

October 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® August 19, 2010
and Therapeutic Compendium
Standards of Analysis, Quality Control, and Therapeutics
Tel: 831-461-6318
FAX: 831-475-6219

The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® (AHP), a California-based non-profit research organization, has released its quality control standards and therapeutic compendium for the botanical dietary supplement Echinacea pallida Root (Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt.) Each monograph establishes national standards for assuring authenticity, purity, and quality control of the monographed botanical. Accompanying the standards is the AHP Therapeutic Compendium which provides a complete and critical review of the pharmacological and safety data currently available, including information on pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, actions, medical indications, historical and modern and traditional use, structure and function claims, dosages, interactions, side effects, contraindications, toxicology, and more.

Echinacea pallida has had a history of a “lost identity”, being either treated as interchangeable with other Echinacea species, or simply ignored in view of the more popular E. purpurea and E. angustifolia. However, discoveries made towards the end of the last century have demonstrated that E. pallida has a unique chemistry profile, and it has even been claimed to have the “highest diversity of constituents” among Echinacea species in general. It follows that the physiologic activity and therapeutic applications of E. pallida may differ from those of other Echinacea species that are more commonly used in trade.

The AHP monograph finally brings clarity to the many uncertainties often associated with the use of E. pallida root. The monograph includes a detailed characteristic of the constituent profile, with an exhaustive focus on ketoalkenynes, the main constituents of interest in the botanical. The analytical methodology developed by AHP is geared towards fast and conclusive differentiation of E. pallida from potential adulterants 2 and other medicinal Echinacea species. The method is based on the unique profile of caffeic acid derivatives typical for E. pallida root.

The Therapeutic Compendium included with the monograph describes the latest on the medicinal applications of the root, as well as historical data. The monograph is released not long after the time when potential bioavailability of ketoalkenynes has been demonstrated. Several in vitro studies have shown a promising activity of these compounds against cancer cells, including reduction of drug resistance. Animal data highlights the possibility of use of E. pallida for decreasing the toxicity of pharmaceutical chemotherapy drugs. These applications echo some of the evidence on the historical use of E. pallida by the Eclectic physicians of the late 19th-early 20th century USA. Together with the more popular and well-known uses, such as for prevention and treatment of respiratory infections, and for control of inflammation, the section provides a comprehensive view of varied, albeit sparsely researched, potential applications of the species. nEchinacea pallida Root concludes the Echinacea series of AHP monographs. Echinacea angustifolia Root was released earlier this year (2010). Also available are Echinacea purpurea Root (2004) and Echinacea purpurea Aerial Parts (2007).

Echinacea pallida Root and the other Echinacea monographs can be ordered http://www.herbalahp. org/order_online.htm Accompanying AHP-Verified Botanical Reference Materials and prices are listed at

NIH announces five Botanical Research Centers

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Studies of the safety, effectiveness, and biological action of botanical products are major focuses for the five dietary supplement research centers selected to be jointly funded by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), two components of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH’s National Cancer Institute is co-supporting two of the five centers.

The competitive awards, approximately $1.5 million each per year for five years, were made to Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La.; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Missouri, Columbia; and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, N.C.

These five interdisciplinary and collaborative dietary supplement centers, known as the Botanical Research Centers (BRC) Program (, are expected to advance understanding of how botanicals may affect human health. “Eventually, the program may provide data that translates to new ways to reduce disease risk,” explained Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., director of ODS. “Until then, the research from these centers will help the public make informed decisions about botanical dietary supplements.”

“Botanicals are usually complex mixtures of many active constituents,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. “This complexity poses some unique research challenges that these centers are well positioned to address.”

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey shows that about 18 percent of adults reported taking a non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural product, spending about $15 billion on the purchase of these products. These products contain a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet other than vitamins and minerals, such as single herbs or mixtures.

Botanical products, including supplements, are among the most popular and use appears to be on the rise. Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) data show that sales of dietary supplements have steadily increased by about 24 percent from 2003 to 2008. Elderberry supplement sales, for example, grew by almost 50 percent during this time. Furthermore, NBJ forecasts that sales of herbs/botanicals will increase about 19 percent over the next five years. Many of the botanicals proposed for study by the five centers appear on NBJ’s list of Top 100 Dietary Supplements According to U.S. Sales, 2002-2008: Part II. They include plant oils, garlic, soy, elderberry, licorice, black cohosh, St. John’s wort and dong quai. The safety and efficacy of these products has not been adequately studied, despite their widespread use.

In 1999, ODS received funding to develop a botanical research initiative that resulted in the BRC Program. The BRC Program is entering its third five-year cycle. Three of the five centers are renewals; that is, they received funding in the last cycle. The renewed centers are Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, and University of Illinois at Chicago.

Award Highlights

Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome
Principal Investigator: William Cefalu, M.D.
Institution: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge
Partner Institutions: Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Rutgers University, New
Brunswick, N.J.; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

This center was supported from 2005-2010 and in the next five years aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of specific, compelling hypotheses about the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms by which botanicals, such as Artemisia and St. John’s wort, may reduce the chance of developing conditions that often lead to metabolic syndrome and of developing metabolic syndrome itself. Metabolic syndrome, a grouping of risk factors that may develop into diabetes and heart disease, has always been this center’s focus.

Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health
Principal Investigator: Norman Farnsworth, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago

This center has been supported for 10 years and has always focused on women’s health. In this new cycle, the center’s mission has evolved to a focus on the safety of botanical dietary supplements, such as black cohosh and licorice, which are widely available. The investigators will study how multi-component mixtures work together; how they are absorbed, distributed and eliminated by the body; how they affect chemical and physical processes within the body; how they interact with drugs; and how they impact women’s own estrogenic hormones.

Botanical Estrogens: Mechanisms, Dose and Target Tissues
Principal Investigator: William Helferich, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Partner Institutions: University of Mississippi, University; Oregon State University, Corvallis;
National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, Ark.

This new center will address safety, efficacy, and mechanism of action of botanical estrogens, such as wild yam,
soy and dong quai, currently being consumed by women. The projects will look at biological effects of botanical
estrogens on molecular mechanisms and cellular pathways, and their actions on bone, uterus, breast tissue, breast
cancer metastasis, and cognition.

Center for Botanical Interaction Studies
Principal Investigator: Dennis Lubahn, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Missouri
Partner Institutions: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

This new center will look at safety and efficacy of botanical dietary supplements, such as elderberry and garlic. The center’s main emphasis will be on interactions among five pathways. Signaling pathways describe a group of molecules in a cell that work together to control one or more cell functions. After the first molecule in a pathway receives a signal, it activates another molecule. This process is repeated until the last molecule is activated and the cell function involved is carried out. The function can be normal or abnormal. The primary focus being antioxidant signaling and how it relates to other pathways and mechanisms of action in preventing prostate cancer and deterioration of nerve function, as well as in improving resistance to infectious diseases.

Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention Principal Investigator: Floyd Chilton, III, Ph.D. Institution: Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, N.C. Partner Institutions: University of Colorado Health Sciences, Aurora; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Bent Creek Institute, Asheville, N.C.; The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

The goal of this renewed center is to delineate the molecular mechanisms by which botanical oils, such as borage oil, may prevent or affect disease (cardiovascular disease, asthma and metabolic syndrome) while focusing on immunity and inflammation. The center will also examine the influence of genetic differences in the metabolism of botanicals to determine the populations where they are most likely to be effective.

The mission of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) is to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population. For additional information about ODS, visit

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s mission is to explore complementary and alternative medical practices in the context of rigorous science, train complementary and alternative medicine researchers, and disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at

The National Cancer Institute leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. More information about cancer, screening, and prevention is available on the NCI Web site at or from NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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