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Aloe Vera shown beneficial for Ulcerative Colitis in scientific study

Is there a link between ADHD & Nutritional Deficiency?

Cordyceps Sinensis Improves Liver Function

Do short exercise sessions payoff?

Aloe Vera shown beneficial for Ulcerative Colitis in scientific study

Studies show that up to 50% of people with inflammatory bowel disease seek "alternative" treatments. In one survey, Aloe Vera was the most widely used herbal therapy by patients with this disease. Although previous studies have shown that Aloe Vera extracts have anti-inflammatory activity, this is the first study to provide scientific support for Aloe Vera as a treatment for ulcerative colitis.

The study was conducted by Langmead L, et al. and published in Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;19:739-747. Forty-four patients (aged 18-80 years) with mildly to moderately active Ulcerative Colitis were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive, in double-blind fashion, Aloe Vera gel (100 ml twice a day) or placebo for four weeks. Patients were advised to start with 25-50 ml twice a day for up to three days, to insure tolerability. Clinical remission (defined as Simple Clinical `Colitis Activity Index of 2 or less) occurred in 30% of patients taking Aloe Vera and 7% of those taking placebo (p<0.09). Clinical response (defined as remission or improvement) occurred in 47% of patients taking aloe vera and 14% of those taking placebo (p<0.05).

Yes, oral Aloe Vera appears to be safe, and this treatment should be considered as part of a comprehensive approach to the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis.

Is there a link between ADHD & Nutritional Deficiency?

Retired public health scientists, Fred Ottoboni, MPH, PhD, and Alice Ottoboni, PhD, recently raised the question "Can Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Result from Nutritional Deficiency?" in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Summer 2003, pp.58-60). They are of the opinion that major changes in the US diet over the last century have created a significant deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids and an excess of omega-6 fatty acids. The heavily promoted vegetable oils sold in grocery stores contain high amounts of omega-6 fats and very little omega-3 - a ratio of about 20 to 1. Our bodies, however, evolved on diets that provided a maximum of 4 parts of omega-6 to 1 part of omega-3. Every year, Americans consume about 6 pounds of manufactured vegetable oils (safflower, corn, canola, etc.) and that began to replace traditional fats like butter about a hundred years ago.

This radical change in diet has major consequences for infants. Research has shown that high consumption of vegetable fats and oils by pregnant women corresponds to low blood levels of DHA in both mothers and babies. Healthy development of the eyes and the brain require plenty of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in the fat of cold-water fish, and arachidonic acid (AA), an omega-6 fatty acid found in meat and eggs. Brain growth speeds up during the third trimester of pregnancy and continues until the child is about two years old. Infants whose mothers lack DHA during pregnancy and/or while nursing or whose nourishment consists of infant formula devoid of DHA or AA do not have the necessary building blocks for healthy brain and eye development. DHA deficiency afflicts much of the US population. Average DHA levels found in the breast milk of US women rank among the world's lowest.

The negative effects of too little omega-3 and too much omega-6 is compounded by the excessive consumption of starches and sugar. The high insulin levels that result are known to disrupt essential fatty acid metabolism. The Ottobonis also point out that high levels of omega-6 fatty acids along with EPA and DHA deficiencies, and/or high and unstable insulin levels, stimulate the enzyme delta-5 desaturase, used to produce inflammatory eicosanoids. These eicosanoids tell the body to produce more corticosteroids, such as cortisol. Cortisol impairs short-term memory and increases feelings of stress. Inflammatory eicosanoids also reduce brain levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of serotonin and dopamine are common among people diagnosed with ADHD.

The Ottobonis give several examples of research literature that link low levels of DHA and AA with ADHD. In a study of 56 children, for example, LJ Stevens and colleagues found that the children with the most severe symptoms had the lowest plasma levels of DHA and AA [Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62(4):761-768].

Barry Sears gave children with ADHD 10-15 grams of DHA and EPA each day via pharmaceutical grade fish oil. He also restricted their intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates. The children's ability to concentrate and their behavior improved within weeks.

"The choice seems clear," the Ottoboni's warn. "We can either continue to depend on prescription drugs to mask the symptoms of ADHD, or consider preventing ADHD by modifying the American diet, particularly for childbearing women and their children. Should we decide to continue to depend on prescription drugs, which do not remedy the underlying causes of nutritional deficiency disease, we can look forward to a country in which there will be more and more children with undersized brains who cannot learn, use costly prescription drugs, drop out of school, commit crimes, and cause anguish for their parents."

Cordyceps Sinensis Improves Liver Function

In 2003, two important studies were conducted at the Clinical College of Chongqing University of Medical Sciences in China on the effect of Cordyceps sinensis supplementation in hepatic care. The first study conducted by Liu YK, Shen W. Department of Gastrointerology, looked at the effect and mechanism of action of Cordyceps sinensis on the activity of hepatic insulinase in CC1 induced liver cirrhosis in rats. The conclusion of the study was that Cordyceps sinensis supplementation could decrease hepatocyte damage and inhibit hepatic fibrogenesis.

The second study conducted by Zhang X, Liu YK, Shen W, Shen DM. (Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2004 Beb;3(1):99-101.) looked at the inhibitive effect of Cordyceps sinensis on CCI and ethanol-induced hepatic fibrogenesis in rats. Biochemical, radioimmunological, immunohistochemical and molecular biological examinations were used. The study concluded that Cordyceps sinensis supplementation could inhibit hepatic fibrogenesis derived from chronic liver injury, retard the development of cirrhosis, and notably improve liver function.

Taken together, these studies show a clear hepato-protective effect of Cordyceps sinensis and confirm its potential benefit in cases of liver damage.

Do short exercise sessions payoff?

A study at Southwest Missouri University found that a group of adults, aged 18 to 43, lowered the levels of dangerous fats in their blood by 27% through a regimen of multiple 10-minute stints of moderate-intensity jogging on a treadmill. "This is encouraging news, since each physically active moment of the day can be an opportunity to prevent heart disease," says Thomas S. Altena, a co-author of the study.

Americans get an estimated 43% of their daily calories from fat sources and end up with high levels of fats in their blood. Those elevated levels are responsible for a buildup of plaque in the veins and arteries, which can restrict blood flow over time and lead to a heart attack if untreated.

Altena adds that many of the study participants were surprised at the ease of the jogging sessions (the equivalent of "fast walking or jogging very slowly"). He says, "If we can get people to use short bouts of exercise to work up to at least 30 minutes of activity on most days, we can not only help them lower fat levels in their blood but also help them improve their overall health."

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Pamela Nathan

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