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Jul 05

Coffee 'may reverse Alzheimer's'

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Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer's disease, US scientists say.

The Florida research, carried out on mice, also suggested caffeine hampered the production of the protein plaques which are the hallmark of the disease.

Previous research has also suggested a protective effect from caffeine.

But British experts said the Journal of Alzheimer's disease study did not mean that dementia patients should start using caffeine supplements.

Source: bbc.com
Jul 05

Traditional medicines continue to thrive globally

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 LONDON, England (CNN) -- Alternative treatments are as varied as the regions of the world they come from. And while they attract skepticism from some Western medical practitioners, they are an undeniable part of global health.
Shark cartilage is a popular dish in Japan.

Shark cartilage is a popular dish in Japan where it is regarded as having health benefits.

In parts of Asia and Africa, 80 percent of the population depend on these treatments as their primary form of healthcare.

Shark fin has long been used in traditional Asian medicine. Shark fin soup is regarded as a tonic that promotes general well-being, and shark fin has even been claimed to have anti-cancer properties.

Shark fins are mainly composed of cartilage, a type of connective tissue found in the skeletal systems of many animals.

In Japan, they are sold by herbalists as a powder, in tablet form or as whole fins. While shark fin has been used for centuries in Asia, in recent years it has become more popular in the West.

A book called "Sharks Don't Get Cancer," published in 1992, popularized the idea of shark fin as an alternative cancer treatment in the West, and powdered shark fin is now sold as dietary supplement.

But scientific evidence doesn't support the idea. A 2000 report by researchers at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington D.C. said more than 40 tumors had been documented in sharks, skates and rays.

Clinical studies on cancer patients, including a 1998 study by the Independent Cancer Treatment Research Foundation in Illinois, haven't shown cartilage powders to have any anti-cancer benefits.

Cancer Research UK, an independent cancer-research organization, states "We don't recommend alternative therapies such as shark cartilage, as there is no scientific or medical evidence to back up the claims made for these 'treatments'."

The use of shark fins has also been criticized by environmentalists who say the practice is threatening shark populations. In addition, environmental groups say that fins are often cut off live sharks at sea, with the bodies thrown back in the sea to drown, a controversial practiced know as "finning."

The ancient art of herbal healing also remains highly popular in Africa. In South Africa, the name given to the practice is muti. In Johannesburg's Faraday market muti practitioners sell wares that are popular with locals and tourists alike.

Illnesses are diagnosed by "sangomas," who employ techniques including communicating with the spirits of ancestors. "Sangomas" then refer their patients to "inyangas," who supply muti treatments.

"Inyangas" make use of South Africa's diverse flora and fauna, selling treatments made from herbs and animal parts. Roots, bark and leaves are all used to prepare infusions that are said to cure ailments ranging from headaches to skin rashes.

Other muti medicines deal with psychological conditions, curing nightmares, bringing good luck and warding off evil spells.

Acupuncture is one of the most widespread of all traditional treatments. An ancient Chinese healing technique thought to date back at least 2,000 years, acupuncture is now widely practiced alongside modern medicine in the East and West alike.

Traditional acupuncture works on the idea that energy, known as "qi," flows along pathways in the body, called meridians. According to acupuncture theory, if these meridians become blocked, "qi" cannot flow freely and illness can result.

Diagnosis of ailments is carried out by, among other things, feeling a patient's pulse and inspecting their tongue. Marian Rose of the British Acupuncture Council told CNN that an important part of the diagnosis process involves asking patients a range of questions about their well-being, including their digestion, sleep patterns, and health history.

Treatment involves inserting fine acupuncture needles at critical points in the body in order to stimulate the flow of "qi," described by Rose as "the body's motivating energy." Traditionally, acupuncture can be used to treat headaches, chronic pain, asthma, depression, addiction, and problems with the digestive system.

Acupuncture has been the subject of extensive research and in the West the practice has been studied in terms of modern medical knowledge.

Dr Mike Cummings is the medical director of the British Medical Acupuncture Association, which promotes Western medical acupuncture. He told CNN that research has shown acupuncture to be effective at treating pain in particular.

Cummings says that it is believed that when an acupuncture needle is inserted into a muscle, it stimulates nerves. That affects the spinal gate, where sensory input is modulated, reducing activity in pain pathways.

Whether backed by medical science or simply by years of use, traditional treatments remain popular and as more research is carried out, some may even come to complement modern medicine.
Source: cnn.com
Jul 04

Akshay’s Ayurveda impresses Sylvester

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An old practitioner of the Indian art of natural healing, Akshay never takes any kind of de-stresser or stress-buster, not even tea or coffee.

Akshay says, “To this day I don’t drink, not even tea or coffee. I go home straight from work and sleep early. While shooting for Kambakkht Ishq, Stallone and I got down to discussing my passion for Ayurveda. I never knew he would get so hooked on to it.”

He even provided Stallone with the name of his favourite Ayurvedic doctor. Says Akshay, “I play Sylvester Stallone’s double, but I’ve just 2-3 major action scenes. But I got to spend hours with Stallone in LA. And that’s when we got talking, not boring stuff about our movies, please! Guess what we exchanged notes on? Broken bones! He told me about his problems with his knees. I told him about my back problem and the Ayurvedic treatment for my back. He got really interested in Ayurvedic treatment and wanted all the details.”

Interestingly, Akshay has never resorted to allopathic treatment for any ailment. “I never pop pills for any ailment, I never run to the medicine cabinet when I get bruised or cut. I completely believe in natural healing. And that goes for the body as much as the mind.”

Stallone, in fact, wondered why he hadn’t been told about Ayurveda earlier. He apparently intends to tell his other Hollywood colleagues to embrace Ayurveda.

But Akshay didn’t give away all his tricks. “I didn’t tell him the secret of my youth. Chyawanprash. Some things are much too sacred to be shared,” Akshay joked.

• Sly apparently intends to tell his other Hollywood colleagues to embrace Ayurveda
Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Jul 04

Ayurveda in 350 Universities of US

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Ayurveda should not be called an `alternative’ system of medicine rather it is a mainstay with holistic approach and can be useful for all ailments. And going by the lifestyle diseases and their prevention, now the science has got tremendous acceptance the world over.

Dr GS Lavekar, the Director-General of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS) said that ayurveda was gaining more acceptance worldwide and over 350 universities in the US only were teaching it in their curriculum.

Dr Lavekar says that ayurvedic medicines have the capacity to tackle all chronic diseases and can even take care of the side effects of chemotherapy and enhance quality of life in cancer patients. Even the Advanced Cancer Therapy Research and Education Centre, the apex body in cancer research in India, functioning from Tata Cancer Hospital in Mumbai, has acknowledged its role, said  Lavekar.

"Some more drugs like AYUSH-C for cancer, AYUSH-Osto for osteoporosis and AYUSH-SL for filariasis are also under the process of development," he said. "As gastro-intestinal ailments also affect a large chunk of State population, NRIADD will also work on `standardised formulations with quality’ to address specific problems in future. Drugs on geriatric care and reproductive child health (RCH) are also listed priority."
Jul 02

Researchers say Sun 'cuts prostate cancer risk'

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Researchers from three US centres found men exposed to a high amount of sun had half the risk of the disease than those exposed to a low amount.
Writing in Cancer Research, they suggest that the protection was a result of the body's manufacture of vitamin D after sun exposure.
But men were warned not to sunbathe excessively because of the risk of developing skin cancer.
Vitamin D is also found in foods such as oily fish.
Experts from the Northern California Cancer Center, the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University all worked on the study.
They looked at 450 white patients aged 40 to 79 with advance prostate cancer, from San Francisco.
 
They compared them with a group of 455 men of similar ages and backgrounds who did not have prostate cancer.
The men were all asked whether their jobs had involved working outside, and if so, how regularly they did this.
The scientists also looked at the difference between pigmentation in underarm skin which is usually not exposed to sunlight, and forehead skin, which is.
To do this, they used a portable reflectometer - a device which measures skin tone by emitting light and assessing the amount that is reflected back, giving a reading on the colour of the skin from 0 to 100.
The difference in scores taken from underarms and foreheads provided an indication of how much exposure to the sun men had experienced.
The risk of prostate cancer was found to be halved in men who had the highest amount of sun exposure - an average of 20 hours a week, or more.

Gene variants
Previous research has shown that the prostate uses vitamin D to promote the normal growth of prostate cells and to inhibit the invasiveness and spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
   
Genes determine how the body processes vitamin D. They control receptors which vary in their ability to bind to the vitamin and therefore influence the behaviour of cells.
DNA tests carried out by the researchers showed the risk of prostate cancer was reduced by up to 65% in men with certain gene variants.
Dr Esther John, of the Northern California Cancer Centre, who led the research, said: "We believe that sunlight helps to reduce the risk of prostate cancer because the body manufactures the active form of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight."
She added that if future studies continued to suggest this link, increasing vitamin D intake from food and supplements might be the safest solution to achieve the right levels.
Chris Hiley, head of policy and research at the Prostate Cancer Charity, warned that while increased exposure to sunlight might decrease the risk of prostate cancer, it also increased the risk of skin cancer.
"Men need more evidence-based research to know how to balance the risks and benefits."
Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, also cautioned that more work was needed to weigh up the risks involved.
"For most people, it usually takes just a few minutes of sun exposure for your skin to make a very large amount of vitamin D," he added.
Source: bbc.com
Jul 01

Sound wave can be the treatment for prostate cancer

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An experimental therapy using sound waves may offer people with early stage prostate cancer an alternative treatment option, doctors believe.

The technique, called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), uses sound waves to heat and kill cancerous cells.

The researchers from University College and Princess Grace hospitals in London used it on 172 men with high rates of success and low levels of side effects.
But experts said long-term follow-up was needed to confirm its potential.

The men taking part in the trial were discharged on average five hours after receiving the HIFU treatment, the British Journal of Cancer reported.

Typically men with the aggressive form prostate cancer, which kills 10,000 people a year in the UK, are treated with either surgery or radiotherapy.

There is also a benign version of the disease, which is rarely life-threatening and sometimes so slow-growing it never causes any problems.

Surgery usually requires a two to three-day in-patient stay and radiotherapy requires daily treatment as an outpatient for up to one month.

Of the initial group, 159 men were followed up a year later and 92% did not have any recurrence of prostate cancer.

Both surgery and radiotherapy have similar success rates.

But the sound waves treatment showed lower levels of side effects than would be expected for the other two.

Just one man had incontinence, none had any bowel problems, while a third of the group had impotence - low in terms of prostate treatment.

'Needs evaluation'

Guy MacPherson, 73, from Oxfordshire, who took part in the trial, was full of praise.

"I was very happy about the treatment. I had no side effects.

"The day following the treatment I was walking the dog, washing the car and going Christmas carolling."

Dr Hashim Ahmed, who led the trial, said the results were very encouraging.

"This study suggests it's possible that HIFU may one day play a role in treating men with early prostate cancer with fewer side effects."

HIFU can target cancerous tissue down to a millimetre accuracy.

It literally boils the cells until they are destroyed.

Since this first group underwent the treatment another 800 men around the UK have also entered trials, although results are not available yet.

It has also started to be tested on other forms of cancer, such as liver and kidney.

The technique is already used in other parts of Europe and Japan.

But experts still want to see long-term results before they give it their backing for NHS use.

Professor Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research UK, said HIFU needed "careful evaluation".

And John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, added long-term data was required.

But he said: "HIFU potentially offers a 'third way' approach to the treatment of localised prostate cancer."
Source:bbc.com
Jun 29

How can we prevent Swine flu through Ayurveda?

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In Ayurveda, health ailments like swine flu are because of weakened immunity that the body cannot withstand against the attack of disease causing germs. Ayurveda, as always, believes in strengthening the body systems that fight and win the battle against H1N1 Virus. This is done by prescribing various immunomodulator herbs such as Guduchi,Tulasi (Holy Basil), Yasthimadhu (Liqorice root), Shunthi (ginger), Pippali (pepper) etc.
Similarly certain antiviral herbs like Bhumyalaki (phyllanthus nirurii), turmeric and antibacterial herbs like Sahadevi, Neem and tulsi are effective in Flu.
Ayurveda for swine flu describes adding spices such as cumin seeds, asafetida, turmeric, coriander etc that help in boosting the digestion and also helps in cleansing the intestines –making them free of toxic material. Elderberry extract, Echinacea extract and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is likely to give good and satisfactory results.
for prevention major, general anti-flu ayurvedic medicine can be taken.
Chyawanprash is the one of the best used preventive medicine for Flu.

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*READ MORE ABOUT  TULASI ON THIS LINK http://www.ayurnepal.com/medicinal-plants/182-ocimum-tenuiflorum-linn.html
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*(READ MORE ABOUT  GINGER ON THIS LINK http://www.ayurnepal.com/medicinal-plants/218-zingiber-officinale.html

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*READ MORE ABOUT Bhumyalaki  ON THIS LINK http://www.ayurnepal.com/medicinal-plants/185-phyllanthus-niruri.html)

 

 

Jun 26

Michael Jackson's history of health problems

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Pop icon Michael Jackson, 50, who died Thursday afternoon after being rushed to a Los Angeles hospital in cardiac arrest, had a long history of confirmed health problems, in addition to rumored conditions.


Michael Jackson, seen here in 2005, was taken to UCLA Medical Center in cardiac arrest Thursday.

 In 1984, Jackson was burned while singing for a Pepsi-Cola commercial in Los Angeles, when a special-effects smoke bomb misfired. He had to have major surgery on his scalp and said that because of the intense pain, he developed an addiction to painkillers.

He also was reported to have a form of lupus in the 1980s, but it was later said to have gone into remission.

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Jun 26

New cancer drug 'shows promise'

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Researchers say a new type of cancer treatment has produced highly promising results in preliminary drug trials.

Olaparib was given to 19 patients with inherited forms of advanced breast, ovarian and prostate cancers caused by mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

In 12 of the patients - none of whom had responded to other therapies - tumours shrank or stabilised.

The study, led by the Institute of Cancer Research, features in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    
One of the first patients to be given the treatment is still in remission after two years.

Olaparib - a member of a new class of drug called PARP inhibitors - targets cancer cells, but leaves healthy cells relatively unscathed.

The researchers, working with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, found that patients experienced very few side-effects, and some reported the treatment was "much easier than chemotherapy".

Researcher Dr Johann de Bono said the drug should now be tested in larger trials.

He said: "This drug showed very impressive results in shrinking patients' tumours.

"It's giving patients who have already tried many conventional treatments long periods of remission, free from the symptoms of cancer or major side-effects."

Olaparib is the first successful example of a new type of personalised medicine using a technique called "synthetic lethality" - a subtle way of exploiting the body's own molecular weaknesses for positive effect.

In this case the drug takes advantage of the fact that while normal cells have several different ways of repairing damage to their DNA, one of these pathways is disabled by the BRCA mutations in tumour cells.

Olaparib blocks one of the repair pathways by shutting down a key enzyme called PARP.
    
This does not affect normal cells because they can call on an alternative repair mechanism, controlled by their healthy BRCA genes.

But in tumours cells, where the BRCA pathway is disabled by genetic mutation, there is no alternative repair mechanism, and the cells die.

Cancer cells with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are the first to be shown to be sensitive to PARP inhibitors.

But there is evidence that olaparib will also be effective in other cancers with different defects in the repair of DNA.

Professor Stan Kaye, who also worked on the study, said: "The next step is to test this drug on other more common types of ovarian and breast cancers where we hope it will be just as effective."

The researchers say the process of drug evaluation and registration may have to be revamped to take consideration of the fact that new generation cancer drugs target specific molecular defects, rather than types of cancer.

Dr Peter Sneddon, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "It is very encouraging to see the development of 'personalised treatment', tailored to the requirements of the individual patient, becoming a reality as it offers the opportunity to design new drugs that are truly selective.

"Although development of this drug is in its early stages, it is very exciting to see that it has the potential to work when other treatment options have failed."

source:bbc.co.uk

Jun 22

Indian Govt earmarked Rs 4000 crore on Ayurveda

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NEW DELHI: The Government on Saturday said it has earmarked Rs 100 crore to promote cultivation of medicinal plants across the country. On the pattern of Special Economic Zones, the health ministry decided to develop agricultural clusters for cultivation of medicinal herbs and expected to increase the export potential in herbal medicine sector up to Rs 1,000 crore annually.

“Of the total Rs 4,000 crore allocated to the department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddhi and Homeopathy (AYUSH) in the 11th five year plan, Rs 100 crore would be spent to promote the cultivation of medicinal plants alone,” said Ms S Jalaja , Secretary, Department of AYUSH.

The farmers will be provided technological guidance and equipment assistance by the state agricultural departments for growing plants with medicinal value, she said, adding that such clusters are already coming up in Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Nort h Eastern states.

The official said with the help of various government schemes and participation of industries, the herbal medicine sector has the potential to overtake allopathic medicine in the country not only in providing medical care but also in generating employmen

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