Exercising DOESN’T make you lose weight – but it will help save your life by getting rid of deadly fat around your organs

Herbs and Helpers

Study: 2-6 months of endurance training led to no or minimal weight loss
But it did cut hidden internal ‘visceral fat’ that cloaks our organs

This can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease

People who are thin but don’t exercise still at risk of these conditions

Exercising may not make you lose weight – but it will rid you of hidden internal fat stored around your internal organs, a study has found.

A study of fitness programs revealed that carrying out between two to six months of endurance training led people to lose either nothing or a minimal amount of weight.

But the good news was it cut hidden internal ‘visceral fat’ that cloaks our organs and can lead to health problems – particularly type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease.

The findings highlight how some people can appear healthy, but are actually ‘thin on the outside but fat on the inside’.

Such people will still have a higher risk of disease because they do not exercise.

A study of fitness programs revealed that carrying out between two to six months of endurance training led people to lose either nothing or a minimal amount of weight

The authors argue that while we are often advised to lose weight, visceral fat may be a bigger threat to our health.

So cutting calories is all very well, but getting off the couch and getting some exercise is more important.

Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and Radboud University in the Netherlands evaluated 117 recent studies.

These had all looked at the effects of fitness programmes, calorie reduction or both – and the effects on weight and body composition.

They found that after two to six months exercise training the average weight reduction was just 1 per cent of total weight – with the range of weight loss across studies between zero and 4kg (8.8lbs).

But the really significant improvement was in visceral fat.

Even in the absence of any change in weight, carrying out an exercise programme resulted in a 6 per cent reduction in visceral fat – with every 1 per cent of weight loss leading to further reductions in visceral fat.

But exercise does cut the hidden internal ‘visceral fat’ that cloaks our organs and can lead to health problems – particularly type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease

To illustrate the difference, the authors say if you lost 5 per cent in body weight after exercise training, you would reduce your visceral fat by 21.3 per cent.

But if you lost 5 per cent by calorie reduction alone, your visceral fat would drop by just 13.4 per cent.

The reason why exercise may not lead to weight loss is it can increase muscle – which weighs more than fat.

Dieting alone will cut fat, but also result in a loss of muscle, the authors note.

The research was published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

The authors write that when comparing exercise training and cutting calories, ‘dietary restriction has superior effects on weight reduction.

‘However a growing body of evidence shows excess visceral adipose tissue [visceral fat] may result in more detrimental obesity-related health effects than excess body weight. ‘

The authors warn doctors should not think that just because an exercise regime has not reduced a patient’s weight it has been ineffective.

They said: ‘Our data therefore strongly indicate that, in clinical practice, caution should be taken when interpreting (lack in) changes of body weight after exercise training interventions.

‘Incorrect conclusions can potentially lead to recommendations or suggestions that the exercise intervention was unsuccessful, despite the presence of a marked effect on body composition.’

Professor Dick Thijssen, co-author of the research said: ‘These results clearly demonstrate the powerful effect of exercise training on your body composition cannot be detected by your weighing scale.

‘Don’t let your weighing scale mislead you, especially when exercise training caused you to be fitter, resulted in a better fit in your old jeans and markedly improved your health risks.’

Source: Daily Mail

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How coffee could be your liver’s saviour: Drink shown to protect against a host of deadly diseases

Herbs and Helpers

Drink may protect against certain cancers that affect the womb and liver

World Health Organisation says no link between coffee and bladder cancer

New research concludes that coffee protects against fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis – all severe conditions which can be fatal

Drinking coffee protects the liver against a number of diseases, a major report has concluded

Drinking coffee protects the liver against a number of diseases, a major report has concluded.

Until recently, experts warned against having more than a few cups of coffee a day for fear it might cause cancer, but its medical rehabilitation is well under way.

Last week the World Health Organisation withdrew its previous warnings on the link between coffee and bladder cancer, and instead said the drink could, in fact, help protect against certain cancers that affect the womb and liver.

The British Liver Trust today adds to the growing weight of evidence around the health benefits of drinking coffee, publishing an 83-page report summarising all existing research on the subject.

It concludes that coffee protects against fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis – all severe conditions which can be fatal.

And for those who already have liver disease, drinking coffee can slow its progression.

Professor Graeme Alexander, a liver expert at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: ‘At last, physicians have found a lifestyle habit that is good for your liver.

‘The evidence in this report shows that drinking coffee can protect you from developing liver disease and, in addition, reduces the risk of progressive disease for those already affected.

‘We have an epidemic of liver disease in the UK and the numbers affected are growing at an alarming rate.’

Liver disease is the third biggest cause of premature death in the UK, and one of the fastest growing – the rate of death has increased by almost 500 per cent since 1970.

Many cases of liver disease are caused by alcohol, but Britain’s growing obesity crisis means increasing numbers are at risk of developing potentially fatal fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – which is usually associated with being overweight – was until recently considered rare. But modern sedentary lifestyles and poor diets means an estimated one in five people in the UK are now in the early stages of the disease, which can eventually lead to life-threatening cirrhosis, a condition more commonly associated with alcoholism.

Recent research, however, has suggested that drinking around six espressos, or three large cappuccinos, each day could ward off non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, even among the obese.

Other major causes of liver problems include blood-borne viruses – such as hepatitis A, B and C – which can cause permanent liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer.

The World Health Organisation, which published its report in the Lancet Oncology medical journal last week, found that the risk of liver cancer decreases 15 per cent for each cup of coffee per day.

The British Liver Trust today adds to the growing weight of evidence around the health benefits of drinking coffee, publishing an 83-page report summarising all existing research on the subject. It concludes that coffee protects against fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis – all severe conditions which can be fatal

Experts are not certain why coffee seems to have such a protective impact on the liver, but there is growing evidence that when caffeine enters the body, one of the molecules it is broken down into – paraxanthine – may slow the growth of tissues that damage the liver.

Two other substances in coffee – kahweol and cafestol – are also thought to play a role.

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, warned that prevention was far better than cure.

He said: ‘Although the liver is remarkably resilient and can regenerate if given time to recover, by the time most people have signs and symptoms of liver damage it is often irreversible.

‘It’s known as a silent killer because it has few symptoms. Three-quarters of people already have late-stage liver disease when they are first diagnosed – by this time, for many, it is too late.’

Previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and type two diabetes.

The European Food Safety Authority advises drinking no more than 400mg of caffeine a day – the equivalent of five espressos.

Source: Daily Mail

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Why Mozart beats Abba when it comes to matters of the heart

Herbs and Helpers

Blood pressure tested listening to Mozart, Strauss, Abba and silence

Mozart and Strauss listeners had lower heart rates and blood pressure

Lyrics in Abba thought to stimulate brain rather than cause relaxation

Levels of stress hormone cortisol fell in all those who listened to music

Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in g minor was found to lower blood pressure and heart rates, unlike Abba or silence, a study found

The music of Mozart and Strauss has been found to significantly lowered blood pressure and heart rates.

Researchers looking at the effects of classical music found the two composers were far more effective than listening to Abba, or silence.

The effects worked even in people who did not normally listen to classical music.

In the study, 60 participants listened to either

*Mozart’s symphony No. 40 in G minor

  • Johan Strauss’s Unforgettable Melodies or
  • Abba Classic – a 2009 compilation which includes Thank You For The Music, The Winner Takes it All and Fernando.

A control group of a further 60 people rested in silence.

The heart rates, blood pressure and the measure of cortisol, a hormone that indicates stress levels, were taken in subjects.

The researchers found the music by Mozart and Strauss lowered systolic blood pressure by 4.7mm hg and 3.7mm hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.1mm Hg and 2.9mm Hg.

Music by Abba reduced systolic blood pressure by a much smaller amount – 1.7mm hg and had a minuscule effect on diastolic blood pressure.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol fell in all three groups.

The NHS recommends blood pressure drugs to be taken when blood pressure is classed as 160mmHg /100mmHg.

If blood pressure is above 140mmHg/ 90mmHg the there are various recommended lifestyle changes.

These include cutting salt intake; eating a low fat diet with plenty of fruit and veg; getting more exercise; cutting down on alcohol; losing weight; drinking less caffeine; stopping smoking and getting at least six hours sleep a night.’

The work was published in Deutsches Arzteblatt, the journal of the German Medical Association.

In conclusion, the authors state: ‘Music by Mozart and Strauss lowered the subjects’ blood pressure and heart rate, while music by Abba did not.

Lyrics in Abba’s music may stimulate the brain rather than calm it, according to German researchers

‘Mozart’s music had the strongest effect; the piece used was his Symphony No. 40 in G minor.’

The authors said that previous research into Mozart has found his music relaxing because of the above average degree of periodicity – in other words it repeats the same pattern at regular time intervals.

Other research has found that babies whose mothers had listened to the music of Mozart during pregnancies were calmer and less aggressive.

The authors said Strauss’s dances may have been effective because they are ‘based on simple structures, catchy melodies and periodically recurring forms….without any distinctive dissonances’.

The authors think that Abba’s lack of effectiveness may have been because the use of words in music may stimulate the brain rather than calming it.

Source: Daily Mail

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Medicinal Thyme – History And Modern Uses

Herbs and Helpers

Thyme is an ordinary plant with an extraordinary background, extending back to the beginnings of recorded history. A familiar culinary and ornamental herb from the mint family, its pleasantly lemony fragrance is a frequent flavoring in poultry and vegetable dishes. It’s a versatile ingredient, utilized in creative ways. its honey is produced on Mount Hymettus in Greece, and it’s an ingredient in liqueurs created by Benedictine monks.

More than 220 species of thyme are cultivated. Most are low-growing evergreen shrubs that enjoy sunny and dry conditions. Thyme is native to southern Europe, but has become naturalized in many other areas.

Smoke and Courage

The origins of the name “thyme” are a curiosity for language scholars. It may derive from either the Latin word for “smoke,” fumos, or the Greek word for “courage,” thumas.

Frequently burned in the ancient world in connection with the dead, the ancient Greeks burned it in funeral rites with the intention that it would ease a soul’s passage into the afterlife.

They also burned it at altars to the gods and thought that the souls of the dead would live on in thyme flowers. The herb was also burned to drive away illness. In earlier times, the Etruscans and Egyptians used it to embalm their dead.

The ancient Greeks also believed that it could inspire courage. Soldiers bathed in thyme-infused water before going off to war. By the Middle Ages, ladies of the court of England would embroider the herb on scarves to send with errant knights on their quests.

Medicinal Thyme Through the Ages

Thyme has been used medicinally throughout recorded history. The ancient Greeks used it to treat nervous complaints. Pliny the Elder was said to have touted it as a cure for “aberrations of the mind.” In ancient Rome, it was used as a remedy for treat respiratory and digestive conditions, and as an antiparasitic agent. The Romans were largely responsible for it spreading throughout Europe, as it was a favorite flavoring for cheeses and alcoholic libations.

By the Middle Ages, it was used for coughs, rheumatism, nightmares, and menstrual problems. By the sixteenth century, it had been naturalized throughout Europe. In the seventeenth century, it was often used for pulmonary complaints and to strengthen lungs. Thyme oil was popularly used as an antiseptic up until World War I. It has been historically popular as a mouthwash for general oral hygiene and a treatment for mouth sores.

In 1725, the German chemist Caspar Neumann isolated the active ingredient in thyme oil, thymol. Thymol is responsible for thyme’s distinctive flavor and odor, as well as its antiseptic properties.

Modern Thyme Investigation

Experimental pharmacology has suggested that thyme may have some spasmolytic and antitussive properties, owing to components in its volatile oil. Its oil may also have some expectorant activities. In some laboratory studies, it was shown to have some antifungal and antibacterial properties among a small group of studied microorganisms, including Aspergillus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli.

It was shown to have antioxidant activities in a small number of studies. Two of the elements of its oil, carvacrol and thymol, demonstrated some potential to inhibit tumor cells when studied in vitro.

Thyme, Wild and Domesticated

Wild it usually has a higher volatile oil content than cultivated it. Due to over-harvesting wild thyme in some areas of Europe, wild thyme has been in danger of dying out. Efforts are being made by many farmers and seed collectors to preserve the heritage of wild thyme and to conserve it through careful cultivation.

Many varieties of thyme are available on the contemporary market for culinary use, and it is widely enjoyed as a dried and fresh culinary herb in various traditions.

It is commonly found in mixed herb seasoning blends, Cajun and Italian mixes, Jamaican jerk seasoning, French bouquet garni, and herbes de Provence.

A staple in kitchens and gardens throughout the globe, the humble thyme plant continues to delight the senses.


Balick M. 2014. Rodale’s 21st-Century Herbal. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Books.

Hemphill I. 2006. The Spice and Herb Bible. Toronto: Robert Rose Books.

Leaf Mother, https://leafmother.com/thyme/

Jarić S., Mitrović M., & Pavlović P. 2015. Review of Ethnobotanical, Phytochemical, and Pharmacological Study of Thymus serpyllum L. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2015, 101978. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/101978

Johnson RL, Foster S, Low Dog T, Kiefer D. 2010. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society.

Staub J. 2008. 75 Exceptional Herbs for your Garden. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith.
World Health Organization. 1999. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol. 1. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Source: Natural News

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Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation

Herbs and Helpers

Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture relieves chronic constipation and produces greater long-term patient outcomes than drugs.

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find true acupuncture more effective than sham acupuncture for the relief of constipation. In another study by Yang et al., acupuncture combined with herbal medicine relieves constipation in the elderly and demonstrates superior patient outcomes to pharmaceutical medications. Acupuncture plus herbs produced a high total effective rate and very low relapse rate. Let’s take a look at the results of the investigations.

Zheng et al. (Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of functional constipation, often referred to as chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This type of constipation does not have a known anatomical or physiological etiology in biomedicine. CIC often involves infrequent defecation, hard stools, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete evacuation of stools. Secondary symptoms include stomach cramping, pain, and abdominal bloating or distention.

The study examines the efficaciousness of front mu (ST25) and back shu (BL25) acupoints of the large intestine meridian. This approach is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. The large intestine foot-yangming channel is often an integral aspect to treatments for constipation.

The researchers note that functional constipation is classified in the Da Bian Nan (difficulty in bowel movement) category in TCM. They cite prior research indicating that acupuncture effectively treats the root causes of constipation. As a result, acupuncture patients have lower relapse rates than patients having taken mosapride, a medication used to facilitate bowel movements. Although the drug is effective, the research indicates a relatively high relapse rate (54.2%) following discontinuation of the drug. The researchers add that acupuncture is effective without significant adverse effects whereas mosapride may cause loose stools, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, and borborygmus. Mosapride is a serotonin 5HT₄-receptor agonist and serotonin 5HT₃-receptor antagonist that is a gastroprokinetic agent.

Acupuncture at the large intestine foot-yangming front mu and back shu points was compared with sham acupoint controls to ensure validity of the data. In a prior meta-analysis, acupuncture had a 72.8% total effective rate for the treatment of constipation. In this study, the classic front mu and back shu combination achieved an 82.56% total effective rate.

The active sham control group had a 67.65% total effective rate compared with the 82.56% total effective rate of the true acupuncture group. Notably, the sham points were located and needled 1 cm laterally to the true acupuncture point locations. This active sham control method may have contributed to clinical successes in the sham group. Nonetheless, the true acupuncture group significantly outperformed the sham control group. True acupuncture had better frequency of bowel movement scores, difficulty of bowel movement scores, and a higher total effective rate. The study involved 72 voluntary patients from the gastrointestinal department at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Inclusion criteria were established and included the following:

Visited the hospital between October 2010 and December 2014
Met the Rome III diagnostic standard for functional constipation
Between 18 – 75 years old
Did not take any stomach or intestinal prokinetic medications within one week prior to the research starting date
Not participating in any other clinical research

Patients who had the following conditions were filtered out of the selection:

Constipation secondary due to biologically identified illness
Unable to describe symptoms due to ambiguous consciousness or psychosis
Progressive malignant tumors or other severe consumptive diseases
Prone to infection and bleeding
Severe primary and concomitant cardiovascular, liver, kidney, digestive or hematopoietic diseases
Pregnant or lactating
Participating in other clinical research

The patients were randomly divided into two groups of 36 patients each: true acupuncture treatment group, sham control group. The average age of participants was 44 years. There were 9 males and 27 females in the treatment group. There were 11 males and 25 females in the control group. The acupoints selected for the treatment group were the following:

Tianshu (ST25) – Large intestine front mu acupoint
Dachangshu (BL25) – Large intestine back shu acupoint

For the control group, body points selected were neither meridian acupoints nor special acupoints. They were located at the following areas:

1 cm to laterally to ST25
1 cm to laterally to to BL25

For both groups, each point was pierced with a disposable 0.3 mm X 50 mm needle (Huatuo brand, Suzhou Medical Equipment Ltd.), adhering to standard piercing depths. For each acupuncture point, the following protocol was observed. After regular disinfection, the needle was inserted into the point and manipulated with pulling, pushing or twisting techniques at a speed of 60 – 90 times per minute. The angle of twist was 90 – 180 degrees and the depth was 0.3 – 0.5 cm. Next, a needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. Thereafter, the needle was removed and pressure was applied to the point with a dry cotton ball to prevent bleeding.

One 30 minute session was conducted per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 5 consecutive days. The entire treatment course comprised 4 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 acupuncture treatments. To evaluate the treatment effective rate, patients were scored before and after the treatments. The constipation signs and symptoms were evaluated for the following:

Frequency of bowel movement
Difficulty in bowel movement
Time taken to bowel movement
Comfort during bowel movement (strain, incomplete bowel movement, bloating, etc.)
Type of Feces
Treatment effective rates were categorized into 4 tiers:

Full recovery: No functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥90%
Significant improvement: Significant improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥70%

Improvement: Moderate improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥30%

Ineffective: Little improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score <30%

The clinical results of the study by Zheng et al. demonstrate that acupuncture is an effective procedure for the treatment of functional constipation. Compared with prior investigations, the classic front mu and back shu acupoint combination of the large intestine meridian demonstrates excellent rates of positive patient outcomes. Let’s take a look at another study.

Yang et al. (Tianjin and Tongren, China) investigated the effects of acupuncture and traditional herbal medicine on constipation in the elderly. They determined that the combination of both TCM modalities is a more effective constipation in the elderly treatment protocol than a conventional pharmaceutical medication. However, the results were close. TCM yielded a 100% total effective rate and the gastroprokinetic agent cisapride had a 94.83% total effective rate.

In the elderly, constipation is a common complication secondary to other illnesses. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that 60% of the elderly suffer from constipation to varying degrees (Du et al.). The prevention and cure for constipation therefore has a high clinical value and significance. Biomedical etiologies often point to poor peristaltic movement in many cases of constipation in the elderly. This lengthens the stool retention duration and hardens stools due to excess absorption of water.

Constipation may cause acute and chronic stress in the elderly. For elderly patients, exertion during bowel movements may cause a change in coronary and cerebral vascular flow, potentially leading to more threatening conditions including angina, acute myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, cerebral vascular damage, or death. A common treatment for constipation with medications often employs the purgation method, which is effective in the short-term. However, long-term purgation treatments may result in electrolyte imbalances or varying degrees of stomachaches and diarrhea.

In TCM, chronic constipation in the elderly is often due to a weak liver and kidneys, poor qi and bood circulation, and subsequent malnourishment of the large intestine. TCM also states that long-term consumption of bitter and chilled foods damage the spleen and stomach, slows qi and blood replenishment, and ultimately weakens peristaltic movements thereby affecting the ability to evacuate feces. Professor Han Jing Xuan from Tianjin University of TCM established a protocol using the Sanjiao acupuncture method and the traditional herbal decoction Huang Di San. These two therapeutic approaches have been extensively used in the clinical treatment of a wide range of elderly related diseases including constipation in the elderly.

The acupuncture protocol involves the needling of Zhongwan, Zusanli, and Xuehai to promote spleen and stomach health. Xuehai also promotes blood circulation and minimizes blood stasis. The Waiguan acupoint circulates and nourishes qi in the Sanjiao (triple burner). The study by Yang et al. followed the protocols established by Prof. Han Jing Xuan.

Using the established protocols, acupuncture plus herbs achieved a 100% total effective rate. Cisapride achieved a 94.83% total effective rate. Furthermore, the long-term improvement rate for the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol was 88.33%. Cisapride had a 46.55% long-term improvement rate.

A total of 118 elderly constipation patients were randomly divided into two groups: treatment group, control group. The control group was given cisapride and the treatment group was given the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol. Upon starting and throughout the treatment, both groups were given daily activity recommendations: maintain positive emotions, consume high-fiber foods, keep warm. For the Sanjiao acupuncture therapy, the selected primary acupoints were the following:

Shanzhong (CV17)
Zhongwan (CV12)
Qihai (CV6)
Zusanli (ST36)
Xuehai (SP10)
Waiguan (TB5)

After standard disinfection, a 0.25 mm disposable needle was swiftly inserted into each acupoint with a high entry speed. The Shanzhong acupoint was needled transverse-obliquely following the path of the Ren meridian for 0.5 – 1 inches. Other acupoints were pierced perpendicularly up to a depth of 0.5 – 1 inches. The Bu (rotate and push) manipulation technique was applied for Shanzhong, Zhongwan, Qihai, and Zusanli for 1 minute. The Xie (rotate and pull) technique was used on Xuehai for 1 minute. A needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed.

One 30 minute acupuncture session was conducted once per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 10 days. The entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. The mandatory ingredients used in the Huang Di San herbal decoction were as follows:

Huang Jing (15 g)
Sheng Di Huang (15 g)
Sha Ren (15 g)
Pei Lan (15 g)
Shou Wu (15 g)
Dang Gui (15 g)

Additional herbs were added according to the nature of constipation. For patients with deficiency the following herbs were added:

Rou Cong Rong (12 g)
Bai Zhu (12 g)
Mai Dong (12 g)
Huang Qi (12 g)
Dang Shen (12 g)
Shan Yao (12 g)

For patients with primary deficiency with secondary excess (Ben Xu Biao Shi) differential diagnostic pattern differentiations, the following herbs were added:

Yu Li Ren (10 g)
Chuan Xiong (10 g)
Chi Shao (10 g)
Tao Ren (10 g)
Dan Zhu Ye (10 g)

The prescribed ingredients were brewed with water to make an herbal decoction. One brew was consumed orally per day in three separate doses throughout the day. One treatment cycle consisted of 10 days and the entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. Subjects in the control group took 10 mg of cisapride tablets, 3 times per day, before lunch, dinner, and sleeping. Treatment efficacy was categorized into 4 tiers:

Recovery: Bowel movement within 12 hours. No other symptoms. Scored 0 for interval between bowel movements
Significantly effective: Significant improvement in constipation. Bowel movement within 24 hours. Normal or slightly dry feces. No difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 1 – 9 for interval between bowel movements
Effective: Bowel movement within 72 hours. Moist feces. Slight difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 10 – 18 for interval between bowel movements
Ineffective: No changes in symptoms. Scored 19 – 20 for interval between bowel movements

The results indicate that acupuncture with herbs is more effective than the prescribed medication. Both studies mentioned in this report demonstrate that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of constipation. Important features of TCM protocols is that they produce a high total effective rate, low relapse rate, and no significant adverse effects.

References:Ouyang, H. & Chen, J. Therapeutic roles of acupuncture in functional gastrointestinal disorders [J]. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 2004, 20(8): 831-841.

Zheng, H. B. & Chen,Y. (2015). A clinical randomized controlled trial of acupuncture at the combination of back shu point and front-mu point of large intestine meridian in the treatment of functional constipation. Practical Journal of Clinical Medicine. 4 (12).

Yang JX, Yu JC & Han JX. (2014). Clinical Study on Treatment of constipation in the elderly with Combination of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. World Science and Technology-Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 16(6).

Du WF, Yu L, Yan XK et al. (2012). Meta-analysis in acupuncture therapy in treating constipation. Journal of Chinese Acupuncture. 32(1): 92-96.

Source: Heath CMI

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Eating nuts slashes prostate cancer death risk by a third

Herbs and Helpers

Five 1oz servings a week of any nut cut mortality rates by 34 per cent

But no evidence eating nuts reduces the risk of developing the disease

Results come from the largest ever study into the effects of a nut-rich diet

Five 1oz servings a week of any type of nut cut mortality rates by 34 per cent researchers found

Men with prostate cancer could slash their risk of death by more than a third by eating nuts regularly, a major study shows.

Five 1oz servings a week of any type of nut cut mortality rates by 34 per cent, researchers found.

But there was no evidence that eating nuts reduces the risk of developing the disease in the first place.

The results come from the largest ever study into the effects of a nut-rich diet on prostate cancer.

The disease affects 35,000 men a year in the UK, killing around 10,000.

Previous studies have hinted a healthy diet and lifestyle, including frequent snacking on nuts, can have a protective effect. In 2014, scientists found walnuts in particular seemed to significantly lower the risk of a tumour.

In the latest study, published online in the British Journal of Cancer, experts at Harvard Medical School in Boston tracked 47,000 men over 26 years. They identified 6,800 who developed prostate cancer.

Eating nuts regularly seemed to have little or no benefit in terms of preventing malignant growths.

But when scientists looked at death rates, they found sufferers who ate nuts at least five times a week were 34 per cent less likely to die from their illness than those who ate nuts less than once a month.

Most of the nut-eaters in the US study ate peanuts but the health benefits seem to apply whatever the type of nut. Nuts are rich in tocopherols, a type of vitamin E which some research suggests can combat cancer.

They also contain phytochemicals, naturally occurring plant chemicals thought to have potent anti-cancer properties. Other studies have found they protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Reporting their findings, the researchers said: ‘No significant associations were observed between peanut or other nut consumption and prostate cancer incidence. But frequent nut consumption after diagnosis was associated with significantly reduced overall mortality.

‘Patients who consumed nuts five or more times per week had a 34 per cent lower rate of overall mortality compared with those who consumed less than once per month.

‘This suggests nuts, although not associated with being diagnosed with cancer, may still improve the overall survival of patients.’

Source: Daily Mail

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The cancers that spontaneously DISAPPEAR

Herbs and Helpers

Earliest case of spontaneous regression was late 13th century

Involved Peregrine Laziosi the ‘patron saint of cancer patients’

Theories it is due to an immune response being triggered in the body

Professor Momna Hejmadi teaches cancer biology at University of Bath

Many people who have survived cancer describe losing their hair as one of the most harrowing – and visible signs – of having the disease.

While chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often a necessary evil for the best chance of surviving the illness, the treatments are known take their toll on patients.

But there have been cases where cancer has been known to disappear all by itself.

Writing for The Conversation, Professor Momna Hejmadi, a cancer biologist at the University of Bath, explores the phenomenon.

It is hard to believe that some cancers miraculously disappear, but it does happen.

Over 1,000 case studies document cancer sufferers who experienced spontaneous regression of their tumour.

So why does this happen and is it possible to exploit it to benefit all cancer patients?

The earliest documented case of spontaneous regression was in the late 13th century.

A bone sarcoma in Peregrine Laziosi (the saint of cancer patients) spontaneously disappeared after a severe bacterial infection.

Although rare, cases where cancer spontaneously disappeared without treatment do exist. But the reasons behind the miraculous regression are so far only theories, says Professor Hejmadi

In the late 1800s, bone surgeon and cancer researcher William Coley observed that inducing a fever could result in tumour regression.

He developed a bacterial vaccine (‘Coley’s vaccine’) that was successful in reducing tumours in many of his patients.

Tumours have been known to disappear spontaneously, in the absence of any targeted treatment, usually after an infection (bacterial, viral, fungal or even protozoal).

Could this mean that simply stimulating the immune system causes regression?


Over the past 70 years, spontaneous regression has been reported in a variety of cancer types, but particularly in melanomas (skin), renal cell carcinomas (kidney), neuroblastomas (adrenal glands) and some types of blood cancers.

However, despite these historical observations of tumour regression, we still do not know the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon.

It is also very difficult to quantify, and many cases are probably unreported in research journals.

One likely reason for spontaneous regression is that the body triggers an immune response against specific antigens displayed on the surface of tumour cells.

Support for this idea comes from the observation that some skin tumours (malignant melanoma) show excessively high numbers of the body’s immune cells inside the tumour.

In another interesting case report, a patient with kidney cancer had a part of his tumour surgically removed, which resulted in the spontaneous regression of the rest of his tumour.

The rationale underlying this phenomenon is that a local immune response following surgery was enough to stop growth of the rest of the tumour.

But tumours are notoriously varied, both in their genetics and their behaviour, which can result in relentless disease progression in some people, but cause spontaneous regression in others.

Tumours of the same type (such as breast cancer) can mutate in many different ways.

This can influence the rate of tumour growth, or the likelihood of spread to different locations, or how responsive they are to treatment.

It is highly probable that genetic mutations are also responsible for spontaneous regression.


Neuroblastoma is a type of rare childhood cancer that could shed some light on how genetic changes may affect spontaneous regression.

About 100 children are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK, but the disease progresses very differently depending on the child’s age.

Tumours in children under 18 months can disappear with or without any treatment (type 1).

But children older than 18 months need intensive treatment and have only a 40-50% survival rate (type 2).

Spontaneous regression has been reported in a variety of cancer types, but particularly in melanomas, or skin cancer (pictured), over the last 70 years

Research shows that type 1 neuroblastomas have distinctive genetics compared to type 2.

For instance, these tumours typically have high numbers of a cell receptor (TrkA) which can trigger tumour cells to kill themselves. In contrast, type 2 neuroblastomas have a higher number of a different receptor (TrKB), which makes these tumours more aggressive.

Another possible explanation is that type 1 neuroblastomas show very low levels of activity of an enzyme, telomerase, compared with type 2 tumours.

Telomerase controls the length of specialised pieces of DNA which enables the cell to divide continually.

In type 1 neuroblastomas, these are very short and unstable due to low activity of the enzyme, and this triggers cell death.

Epigenetic changes cannot be excluded either.

Epigenetic changes do not affect the DNA sequence of a cell but modify the activity of various proteins by “tagging” different parts of the DNA.

So cells with the same DNA sequence, but with different tags may behave completely differently and result in some tumours destroying themselves.

Neuroblastoma, a type of rare childhood cancer that could shed some light on how genetic changes may affect spontaneous regression, says Professor Hejmadi (file image)

Recent studies showed significant differences in tagged genes in type 1 neuroblastomas compared to type 2, although these are preliminary findings.

Although the precise mechanisms underlying spontaneous regression are still uncertain, it is very likely that stimulating a strong immune response must play a big part in people with certain genetic profiles.

Further research exploring this link between genetics and stimulating an immune response would provide answers to how we can identify tumours that have the capacity to spontaneously regress.

The next step would be to design drugs that can artificially stimulate the immune system to specifically target tumours based on their genetic makeup.

Developing animal models that mimic human spontaneous regression would be an invaluable tool towards this.

Source: Daily Mail

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10 Surprising Benefits Of Earl Grey Tea You Never Knew

Herbs and Helpers

I love Earl Grey tea. I enjoy it so much that I even wrote an article on the history of Earl Grey for my blog. I discovered Earl Grey doesn’t just have a unique and tasty flavor (although not everyone would agree with that), it also has a wide range of benefits.

1. Good for Your Teeth

Tea contains very high levels of catechin, an antioxidant that fights oral infections. Fluoride is also a natural component of Earl Grey tea, and it’s also found in tap water. Fluoride is good for your teeth because it protects them from cavities, as well as fighting decay. So if you’re not a fan of city water, Earl Grey can be another natural way to get your daily dose of fluoride.

2. Digestion

Earl Grey tea has been known to improve digestion. It aids in the digestive process and helps relieve painful indigestion, colic and nausea. It is also used to treat intestinal problems such as worms. Because it helps the digestive process, it can also help to keep you regular.

3. Fights Anxiety and Depression

The bergamot in Earl Grey tea has been known to have a calming effect on people, as well as to boost a person’s mood. This is due to bergamot’s natural aromatherapy qualities. In this way Earl Grey is a good natural solution for people suffering from depression, stress and anxiety.

4. Energy

It may not have as much as a kick as coffee, but it does contain enough caffeine to give you a nice little afternoon boost without keeping you up all night.

5. Cancer Prevention

Earl Grey contains high quantities of antioxidants, which help our bodies to fight off free radicals that cause diseases such as cancer. Therefore, drinking the tasty beverage can give you a greater chance of not developing such diseases.

On a slightly less serious note, antioxidants also help your skin to stay healthy and looking young. Again, this is due to fighting free radicals that can damage your skin.

  1. Weight Loss

Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular effects of Earl Grey tea is weight loss. This is primarily due to its citrus extract. It’s because of this that many people believe that citrus fruits in general can induce weight loss. It’s thought that calories are either broken down into food for your muscles or released through the natural metabolic process. So instead of cream or sugar, try putting lemon in your future cups of tea instead.

  1. Prevention of Heart Disease

Good news everyone! Apparently, drinking three cups of Earl Grey tea daily may help lower your risk for heart disease. A study published in 2012 inPreventative Medicine found that people who drank three cups of black tea daily dramatically lowered their blood triglyceride levels and increased the ‘good cholesterol’ HDL after three months. The participants also had increased levels of antioxidants, which, as we now know, fight against free radicals that damage your cells.

Further research conducted by the University of Cantanzaro in Italy has also yielded positive results. A study of over two hundred patients with high levels of blood fats found that LDL (also know as ‘bad cholesterol) ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) was reduced by 39 per cent after a month of taking Earl Grey extract. It also reduced blood sugars by 22 per cent and raised ‘good’ cholesterol by 41 per cent. The reduction in blood sugar also shows that Earl Grey may be highly beneficial for those suffering with diabetes.

  1. Stress Relief

Unlike the effects of coffee, Earl Grey tea relaxes and soothes the body almost instantly. It also has a stress relief effect whilst simultaneously providing the same clarity and focus as coffee. This makes it the perfect alternative for those who don’t want to get overly wired from coffee.

  1. Cold Relief

The bergamot found within Earl Grey is said to improve the immune system as well as cure fevers. As such, it’s considered to be a natural cold remedy.

  1. It Keeps You Hydrated

And no, not just because you take it with water.

Unlike the dehydrating properties of coffee, tea helps you stay hydrated and maintains the body’s fluid balance because of its high potassium content.

Source: Life Hack

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The history (and health claims) of the tea

Herbs and Helpers

How do you take your tea – with a drop of poisonous chemicals or a spoonful of sheep dung? Throughout history, the health benefits – and harms – of this popular beverage have been widely debated. In an article originally published in the student science magazine BlueSci, Sophie Protheroe, an undergraduate student at Murray Edwards College, examines the global history of tea and its effect on our health.

Nothing says Britain quite like a cup of tea. As a nation, we have been drinking it for over 350 years. But tea has endured a tumultuous journey to reach its status as the nation’s favourite beverage.

Originating in China, where it was thought to have medicinal properties, tea’s history is closely intertwined with the history of botany and herbal medicine. Legend states that the very first cup of tea was drunk in 2737BC by the Chinese emperor Shennong, believed to be the creator of Chinese medicine. Shennong was resting under the shade of a Camellia sinensis tree, boiling water to drink when dried leaves from the tree floated into the water pot, changing the water’s colour. Shennong tried the infusion and was pleased by its flavour and restorative properties.

A more gruesome Indian legend attributes the discovery of tea to the Buddha. During a pilgrimage to China, he vowed to meditate non-stop for nine years but inevitably fell asleep. Outraged by his weakness, he cut off his own eyelids and threw them to the ground. Where they fell, a tree with eyelid-shaped leaves took root: the first tea tree.

Regardless of the truth behind the legends, tea has played a pivotal role in Asian culture for centuries. The earliest known treatise on tea is ‘Ch’a Ching’ or ‘The Classic of Tea,’ written by the Chinese writer Lu Yu. The book describes the mythological origins of tea, as well as its horticultural and medicinal properties, and contains prolific instructions on the practice and etiquette of making tea. This was considered a highly valued skill in China and to be unable to make tea well and with elegance was deemed a disgrace.

Tea was thought of as a medicinal drink until the late sixth century. During the T’ang dynasty between the seventh to tenth centuries, tea drinking was particularly popular. Different preparations emerged, with increasing oxidation producing darker teas ranging from white to green to black. Other plant substances were added, including onion, ginger, orange or peppermint with different infusions believed to have unique medicinal properties. Over time, tea was no longer restricted to medicinal use and was also generally consumed as a beverage.

Tea came to Europe in the late sixteenth century during the Age of Discovery, a time of extensive overseas exploration. Natural philosophers discovered many new plants which they collected and used for medicines or for general consumption. Of particular interest were plants with stimulant properties, such as team coffee, chocolate, tobacco and ginseng. Europeans learned of the medicinal uses of plants from local people. However, Asians remained sceptical that the healing properties of tea would have any effect on the health of Europeans, claiming that the medicinal value was unique to Asians.

Portuguese merchants were the first to bring home tea (known to them as ‘Cha,’ from the Cantonese slang) from their travels in China. However, the Dutch were the first to commercially import tea, which quickly became fashionable across Europe. Tea came to Britain in the 17th century and its popularity stems from Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess and tea addict, the wife of Charles II. Her love of tea made it fashionable both at court and amongst the wealthy classes. Due to high taxes, tea remained a drink of the wealthy for many years. In the 18th century, an organised crime network of tea smuggling and adulteration emerged. Leaves from other plants were used in the place of tea leaves and a convincing colour was achieved by adding substances ranging from poisonous copper carbonate to sheep’s dung.

When tea was introduced to Britain, it was advertised as a medicine. Thomas Garraway, owner of Garraway’s coffee house in London, claimed that tea would, “maketh the body active and lusty” but also “…removeth the obstructions of the spleen…” and that it was “very good against the Stone and Gravel, cleaning the Kidneys and Uriters”. The Dutch doctor Cornelius Decker, profusely prescribed the consumption of tea, recommending eight to ten cups per day and claiming to drink 50 to 100 cups daily himself. Samuel Johnson was yet another doctor known to indulge in excessive tea drinking, rumoured to have consumed as many as sixteen cups at one tea party, and was an avid defender of the health benefits of tea. In 1730, Thomas Short performed many experiments on the health effects of tea and published the results, claiming that it had curative properties against ailments such as scurvy, indigestion, chronic fear and grief.

However, the health effects of tea were debated and by the mid-18th century accusations that tea was detrimental to health were brewing. Wealthy philanthropists worried that excessive tea drinking amongst the working classes would cause weakness and melancholy. One French doctor warned that overconsumption of tea would result in excess heat within the body, leading to sickness and death. John Wesley, an Anglican minister, condemned tea due to its stimulant properties, stating that it was harmful to the body and soul, leading to numerous nervous disorders. Wesley even offered advice on how to deal with the awkward situation of having to refuse an offered cup of tea.

The English traveller Jonas Hanway believed that tea-drinking was a risk to the nation, leading to declining health of the workforce. He was particularly concerned about the effect on women, warning that it made them less beautiful. Arthur Young, a political economist, objected to tea because of the time lost to tea breaks. He criticised the fact that some members of the working class would drink tea instead of eating a hot meal at midday, reducing their nutritional intake: tea replaced the traditionally working class drink of home brewed beer, which had a higher nutritional value than tea; tea contains no calories without milk or sugar. Thomas Short, a Scottish doctor, claimed that tea caused disastrous ailments and argued that people would spend money on tea over food. In reality, the working class often bought very cheap grades of tea or once-used tea leaves from wealthier families.

Eventually, tea regained popularity as philanthropists realised the value of tea drinking in the temperance movement, offering tea as a substitute for alcohol. During the 1830s, many coffee houses and cafes opened as alternatives to pubs and inns, and from the 1880s, tea rooms and tea shops became popular and fashionable.

Today, tea remains the most widely consumed beverage in the world. It has been estimated that tea accounts for 40% of the daily fluid intake of the British public. So, is this lavish consumption affecting our health? A study at Harvard University Medical School suggests that tea may have health benefits; tea contains polyphenols, which are especially prevalent in green tea, and have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which could prevent damage caused by elevated levels of oxidants, including damage to artery walls which can contribute to cardiovascular disease. However, these effects have not been directly studied in humans and it may be that tea drinkers simply live healthier lives. However, to date there is no conclusive evidence suggesting tea has any genuine effects on health, either positive or negative.

It seems that the controversies surrounding the medicinal use of tea may be little more than a storm in a teacup.

Provided by: University of Cambridge

Source: Medical Express

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Is BARLEY key to better heart health?

Herbs and Helpers

Barley found to lower 2 types of ‘bad’ cholesterol – LDL and non-HDL

High cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke

Findings suggest eating the grain can help prevent heart diease

Barley is the latest in a long line of foods to be hailed a ‘superfood’.

The grain could hold the key to improving heart health, experts believe.

They found eating barley or foods containing the grain significantly reduced levels of so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol.

High cholesterol is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study also indicated that barley has similar cholesterol-lowering effects as oats, which is often the go-to grain for health benefits.

Eating barley or foods containing the grain significantly reduced levels of so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol. The grain reduced both low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and non-high-density lipoprotein, or non-HDL, by seven per cent, Canadian researchers found

Barley reduced both low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, and non-high-density lipoprotein, or non-HDL, by seven per cent, researchers at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Their findings are the result of a review of 14 studies on clinical trials conducted across seven countries, including Canada.

It is the first study to look specifically at the effects of barley on both LDL and non-HDL, as well as apolipoprotein B, or apoB, which carries bad cholesterol through the blood.

Dr Vladimir Vuksan, research scientist at St Michael’s, said: ‘The findings are most important for populations at high-risk for cardiovascular disease, such as type 2 diabetics, who have normal levels of LDL cholesterol but elevated levels of non-HDL or apoB.

‘Barley has a lowering effect on the total bad cholesterol in these high-risk individuals, but can also benefit people without high cholesterol.’

High cholesterol is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke

High cholesterol and diabetes are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, historically treated with medications.

However, Dr Vuksan’s research and work focuses on how dietary and lifestyle changes can reduce these risk factors.

He said: ‘Barley’s positive effect on lowering cholesterol is well-documented and has been included in the Canadian strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.

‘Health Canada, the FDA and several health authorities worldwide have already approved health claims that barley lowers LDL cholesterol, but this is the first review showing the effects on other harmful lipids.’

Despite its benefits Dr Vuksan said barley is not as well-established as some other health -recommended foods – such as oats.

Barley consumption by humans has fallen by 35 per cent in the last 10 years.

Canada is one of the top five world producers of barley – almost 10 megatonnes per year – but human consumption accounts for only two per cent of the crop yield, with livestock making up the other 98 per cent.

‘After looking at the evidence, we can also say that barley is comparably effective as oats in reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease’ said Dr Vuksan.

Barley is higher in fibre, has twice the protein and almost half the calories of oats, which are important considerations for those with weight or dietary concerns.

Dr Vuksan said barley can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

He recommends trying to incorporate barley into existing recipes, using it as a substitute for rice or even on its own – just like oatmeal.

Source: Daily Mail

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