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Antioxidants For Skin Care

In pursuit of healthy looking skin, many limit their approach to using creams and lotions. Studies indicate that specific supplements along with a healthy diet can enhance skin texture and appearance further.

The antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and pycnogenol work independently and with other vitamins to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals can damage DNA, causing changes in these basic building blocks of cells. This damage can often be prevented, and sometimes reversed, with the healing properties of antioxidants. Vitamins A, C, and E are also important in wound healing. Vitamin A keeps skin supple, Vitamin C helps stabilize collagen, and Vitamin E is anti-inflammatory, all of which contribute to faster healing.Retinoids, more commonly known as retinols, in skin creams are the active ingredients in vitamin A. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found vitamin A to have a positive effect as a treatment for stretch marks,psoriasis, and other disorders that harden the outer layer of the skin. Foods containing vitamin A include cantaloupes, carrots, green leafy vegetables, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is found in vegetables and citrus fruits. This water-soluble molecule is considered to be the most important antioxidant. An increase in dietary vitamin C has been shown to reduce UV-induced tumors.

Vitamin E is found in corn, nuts, seeds, soy, vegetables and vegetable oils, and wholewheat flour, and may be important in reducing sunburn severity and the wrinkles associated with sun exposure. Vitamin E is needed to maintain normal body metabolism and to protect and heal body tissues and skin.

Vitamins A, C, and E work together to help prevent the formation of lesions. A study in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology found that regular supplementation with vitamins A and E was associated with a 70% reduced risk for basal cell carcinomas.

A recent study indicates that pycnogenol may reduce damage to skin caused by UVB radiation. For four weeks, 20 volunteers took 1.1 mg of pycnogenol per day per 2.2 pounds of body weight, and for an additional four weeks, took 1.66 mg of pycnogenol per day per 2.2 pounds of body weight. After four weeks, the subjects' resistance to UV sunburn increased by 40%, and after eight weeks resistance increased by 84%. Additional studies have demonstrated that pycnogenol also binds collagen in the skin, helping to maintain elasticity, enhance firmness, and prevent wrinkles.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2001, Vol. 73, No. 5, 853-64.

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Update: Ginkgo Biloba And Dementia

The Alzheimer's Society and the Cochrane Collaboration published a review on the use of ginkgo biloba for treatment of dementia. The Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit organization that oversees systematic reviews of health care interventions, has centers in 15 countries. The report examined 33 clinical trials of ginkgo biloba. Researchers concluded that the studies showed convincing evidence that ginkgo biloba may benefit cognition, emotional function, and activities of daily living in early stage Alzheimer's as well as other forms of dementia. In less than three months, many patients experienced positive results using a dosage of less than 200 mg of ginkgo biloba per day.Based on these findings, the Alzheimer's Society has committed to underwrite a new six-month trial to study the effects of ginkgo biloba on 400 subjects in the early stages of dementia. The research will be conducted by Imperial College, University of London, and the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species and has been used in China for treating brain and lung disorders for over 5,000 years. Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the brain and extremities by dilating blood vessels and thinning the blood, and should not be mixed with blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ginkgo biloba also functions as an antioxidant, protecting nerve cells in the brain from deterioration.

According to Dr. John Cardellina, PhD, vice president for botanical and regulatory science at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, "Ginkgo biloba is among the top selling herbal supplements in the U.S. and, given the recent conflicting news reports about its benefits, consumers will want to know more about the Cochrane Collaboration's findings. This analysis provides sufficient scientific support for consumers, particularly the elderly with early stage dementia or memory loss, to feel confident that ginkgo biloba is a viable product for improving memory function."

Reference: The Cochrane Library; 2002, No. 4.

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Beta-carotene For Treating Cystic Fibrosis

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 30,000 Americans suffer from cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is an inherited disease affecting the pancreas, respiratory system, intestines, liver, and sweat glands. Sufferers experience chronic respiratory infections, fat indigestion due to pancreatic insufficiency, and concentrations of chloride in sweat.Patients with CF have decreased plasma concentrations of antioxidant vitamins, especially beta-carotene. This is thought to result from fat malabsorption and chronic pulmonary inflammation, which deplete antioxidant levels.

The goal of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study from the University Children's Hospital in Vienna, Austria was to investigate the effect of oral beta-carotene supplementation for six months. Beta-carotene, even in large amounts, is not known to cause any serious side effects. However, excessive intake of more than 100,000 IU, or 60 mg, per day sometimes gives the skin a yellow-orange hue. People taking beta-carotene for long periods of time should also supplement with vitamin E, as beta-carotene may reduce vitamin E levels.

In the study, 24 CF patients received either 1 mg of beta-carotene per day per 2.2 pounds of body weight, with a maximum of 50 mg per day, or a placebo. After three months, the maximum beta-carotene level was lowered to 10 mg per day for another three months. Patients had an average of 14.5 days of treatment with antibiotics for acute respiratory infections during the three months prior to starting beta-carotene supplementation. The need for antibiotic treatment decreased 32% to 9.8 days during the high-dose beta-carotene period, and decreased 28% to 10.5 days in the low-dose period. Respiratory infections increased in the placebo group.

Reference: Thorax; 2001, Vol. 56, 48-52.

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L-Carnitine Effective For ADHD

L-carnitine may be a safe alternative to the stimulant drug Ritalin®, the most common treatment for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Research has proven that supplementation with L-carnitine decreases attention problems and aggressive behavior in boys with ADHD, a disorder that affects an estimated 3% to 5% of school-aged children in the U.S. ADHD is characterized by impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, excessive physical activity, and learning difficulties.

In this study, 24 boys between the ages of 6 and 13 years received L-carnitine and a placebo alternately during two separate eight-week periods. The L-carnitine dose was 100 mg per day per 2.2 pounds of body weight, with a maximum of 4 grams per day. Parents and teachers using two rating scales assessed changes in behavior. According to the parents, 54% of the children showed improvement in their behavior with L-carnitine, while only 13% improved during the placebo period. The teacher's ratings showed less dramatic improvements.

The late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, MD, discovered that foods with salicylates-organic acid salts-can negatively affect the behavior of some children. Salicylates include artificial colors, dyes, flavors, and preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and tertial butlyhydroquinone (TBHQ). Foods with naturally occurring salicylates include apples, berries, cucumbers, oranges, peppers, and tomatoes. Aspirin also contains salicylates.

Preliminary research suggests that exposure to the radiation from television sets and fluorescent bulbs may also promote hyperactive behavior. To lessen symptoms, doctors recommend avoiding refined sugar and supplementing with B vitamins. The Feingold Association of the United States has continued Dr. Feingold's work by publishing a manual on foods that are safe for those affected by artificial food additives.

Reference: Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids; 2002, Vol. 67, 33-8.

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Kudzu Extract For Treating Alcoholism

In 2000, the U.S. experienced the largest percentage increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths on record, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An average of one person every half-hour was killed in an alcohol-related crash. This trend has intensified the search for effective treatment of alcoholism. Kudzu root extract may play an important role because of its ability to decrease ethanol cravings. Ethanol is a component of alcohol.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a perennial vine, best known as a weed in the southeastern U.S. that causes damage to farmland. A member of the legume family, kudzu is native to Eastern Asia. Researchers believe kudzu suppresses the appetite for ethanol, and improves the function of ethanol-affected organs without toxic side effects.

A systematic review of approximately 300 clinical case reports from Chinese practitioners found that 80% of patients with chronic alcoholism who were treated with kudzu for two to four weeks stopped craving ethanol. Improvement in impaired organ function is thought to take at least four to six months of treatment with kudzu.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supports the ongoing studies of Dr. Scott Lukas, PhD. Dr. Lukas treated approximately 70 patients with problem drinking, and found kudzu root to be effective in reducing alcohol cravings. The doctor's patients reported a decrease in ethanol cravings within one to two weeks of therapy with no adverse side effects. The total dosage of kudzu root extract was nine to 27 grams taken in divided doses two to three times per day.

Most U.S. vitamin manufacturers recommend starting with a dosage of 300 mg to 600 mg of kudzu root extract two to three times per day to decrease the craving for alcohol. The optimal dose for suppressing ethanol cravings in alcoholics has yet to be established in clinical trials.

Reference: Alternative Medicine Review; August 2000, Vol. 3, 91-4.

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Men's Health Week, June 9-15, 2003

Tests conducted by Columbia University researchers Dr. Debra L. Bemis, PhD, and Dr. Aaron E. Katz, MD, found that the herb mixture Zyflamend® slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells. Zyflamend® also doubled the rate of apoptosis, the naturally occurring programmed death of cancerous cells. Dr. Katz, director of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center department of holistic urology, notes that prostate cancer cells make a substance called COX-2, which a number of recent studies find is an important factor in cancer cell growth.Zyflamend® contains 10 herbs: barberry, Chinese goldthread, ginger, green tea, holy basil, hu zhang, oregano, rosemary, Scutellaria biacalensis, and turmeric. The COX-2 inhibiting activity of Zyflamend® was found to be almost equivalent to the pharmaceutical NS-398, a selective COX-2 inhibitor.

According to Dr. Katz, "This study on Zyflamend® is exceptionally promising. This is the first known natural blend of botanicals that is showing COX-2 inhibitory activity." The research is ongoing and will proceed to clinical trials on the efficacy of Zyflamend® for prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. By the age of 70, over 70% of U.S. men will develop prostate cancer. Conventional treatment options may have serious side effects such as hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lowered blood counts, reduced ability to clot blood, and increased risk of infection.

Reference: Society of Urologic Oncology at the National Institutes of Health; December 13, 2002, Bethesda, MD, U.S.A.

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In a two-week double-blind clinical trial, 42 children aged 8 to 17 years with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) received either 187 mg enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules per day, or a placebo. Children weighing more than 99 pounds received two capsules three times per day, and children weighing between 66 and 99 pounds received one capsule three times per day.

At the end of the trial, 76% of the peppermint oil group showed improvement compared with only 19% taking the placebo. No side effects were reported for either group.

Reference: Pediatrics; 2001, Vol. 138, 125-8.

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Written by: Ecomall

Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.


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