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NUTRITION NEWS

Leading Homeopathic Remedies

Because homeopathic medicines are considerably safer than conventional drugs, it makes sense to use them as the first resort and to consider using conventional drugs if the homeopathics work too slowly.

When taking homeopathic medicines, keep in mind that the condition listed for each remedy is just a partial description of the symptomatology for which that remedy is useful. When using homeopathic single remedies, the remedy is more likely to work if the symptoms for that remedy closely match your symptoms. When you have found the correct remedy, you will see noticeable improvement in less than 24 hours.

Although these remedies are used for conditions that go away on their own, they can dramatically speed recovery and often prevent recurrences.

Bryonia (wild hops) is a major remedy for coughs and headache, especially when these symptoms are aggravated by exposure to warm rooms and by the slightest motion; the cough will be worsened by simple breathing and head pain will be increased by bending over, walking, or even moving the eyes. People who respond to this remedy tend to be quite irritable.

Allium cepa (onion) is a wonderful remedy for the common cold or respiratory allergy when the symptoms of the sick person resemble the symptoms of a person exposed to the mist of an onion: watery eyes, profuse clear and watery nasal discharge, and sneezes.

Pulsatilla (windflower) is one of the leading remedies given to women and children. It is a remedy for gentle, mild, yielding individuals who are highly emotional, weepy, sympathetic, and fearful of abandonment. This is a leading remedy for digestive disorders, allergies, earaches, headaches, insomnia, sinusitis, premenstrual syndrome, vaginitis, and cystitis.

Ignatia (St. Ignatius bean) is an excellent remedy for people who experience ailments after grief or anxiety. The homeopathic literature is full of cases where this remedy greatly aided the physical and emotional health of a person distraught after a romantic hardship, physical or emotional abuse, embarrassment, remorseful experience, or overwrought nervous condition.

The typical symptoms of a person who needs Gelsemium (yellow jessamine) are some of the classic flu symptoms: fever, physical and mental lethargy, headache, glassy eyes, and flushed face. One unique symptom of people who need this remedy is that, despite their fever, they do not tend to have much thirst.

Nux vomica (poison nut) is extremely useful after over-indulging in food or drink. The typical symptoms that it is known to help include indigestion (especially gas and bloating), constipation, and headaches.

Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy) is an effective remedy for people who suffer from arthritis, influenza, sprains and strains, and sore throats. These people feel pain upon initial motion, but they experience relief after continued motion.

Reference: Dana Ullman, M.P.H. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, 1997.

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Herbal Relief for Insomnia

Insomnia ranks third in a list of common complaints experienced by individuals seeking medical advice-only behind headaches and the common cold.

Unlike the common cold, insomnia is not a disease, rather it is a symptom or complaint, whose cause is often not easily found.

Before resorting to a pharmacological approach, step back and take a long look at a few lifestyle and situational solutions.

Establish regular sleep pattern practices, such as going to bed and getting up about the same time each night and morning. Also, engage in relaxing activities before going to bed.

If you still can't get to sleep, a number of herbs can offer a little extra help. Chamomile's reputation as a sleep aid is increasing. Well-established as a soothing medicinal herb, a heaping tablespoonful of dried chamomile flowers steeped in a cup of water makes a good tea.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is common in the southeastern U.S. and has been used in the treatment of conditions of nervous anxiety. Numerous studies show that extracts have a depressive effect on the central nervous system. The experience of numerous medical practitioners in Europe also confirms the plant's safety and efficacy. Passionflower makes a good supportive ingredient for combining with chamomile tea before bed.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered of great value for a nervous heart, nervous stomach, and for relieving insomnia.

If all else fails, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is the herbal king of sleep aids. From a scientific perspective, valerian is the most widely documented herbal sleep aid. Over the past 20-30 years, well over 200 scientific studies on valerian's active components and their effects have been published in the scientific literature.

Several researchers have noted that one of the most appealing aspects of the use of valerian as a sedative is that it does not interact with alcohol, like barbiturates do.

Reference: Foster, S. Herbs for Your Health, 1996.

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Echinacea: Proven Effective

Echinacea is native to North America and grows in the eastern and central U.S. and southern Canada. Native Americans used the herb for such ailments as colds, sore throat, and snakebites.

Although there are nine species of Echinacea, only three are commonly used as medicinal herbs: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. Although Echinacea angustifolia is often considered the species that possesses the greatest chemical activity, the three species contain many of the same constituents and offer similar medicinal benefits.

Commonly used parts of Echinacea include the stabilized juice of Echinacea purpurea tops, fresh or dried whole plant or aerial preparations of any of the three species, fresh or dried preparations from the roots of any of the three species, or a mixture of any of the above.

Some researchers suggest that the fresh-pressed juice of Echinacea purpurea has the widest range of active compounds, as well as a higher level of scientific support.

Due to the extensive level of pharmacological activity, Echinacea appears to have a number of medicinal applications. The most well-known and popular use of Echinacea is for fighting the flu and common cold, and clinical studies have indicated that Echinacea decreases the frequency of colds and flu, as well as reduces symptoms. Generally, Echinacea is an immune system enhancer that may aid in the prevention of a range of infections. There are indications that Echinacea may contain fungicidal and bacteriostatic properties.

Echinacea is nontoxic, has no known side effects, and there are no known contraindications for external use. However, Echinacea is not recommended for use in diseases such as tuberculosis, leucosis, collagenoses, multiple scleroses, AIDS, HIV infections, and other autoimmune diseases in which the immune system itself causes disease disturbances in the body.

Reference: Snow, J. "Echinacea (Moench) Spp. Asteracae." The Protocol Journal of Botanical Medicine, 2(2):18-23, 1997.

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Supplements Slow HIV Progression

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA, in a recent review of studies concluded that vitamins A, C, D, E, and the Bs may slow the progression of HIV to AIDS and prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child.

Vitamins can play key roles in the immune system and hence in fighting AIDS. For example, Vitamin C increases T and B lymphocytes and reduces HIV replication in infected lymphocytes. Vitamin E's antioxidant properties may protect against free radical-induced HIV expression in lymphocytes. Previous studies have shown that people with HIV and low vitamin C or E status have lower natural killer cell and antibody counts, while HIV-positive people with high vitamin B6 levels have stronger immune systems with more effective lymphocytes.

HIV-positive men were grouped by their vitamin status when they initially contracted the virus, then tracked for several years. The researchers presented their findings in the context of the relative risk of HIV status progressing to AIDS for people with high initial vitamin intake compared with those who had low initial nutrient levels.

Results indicated that people who took 9,000-20,000 IU of vitamin A per day had only 55% the chance of progressing to AIDS and 80% the chance of dying from the disease as those who took less than 9,000 IU per day.

The B vitamins also appeared to protect against AIDS progression and death. More than 5 mg thiamine (B1), 6 mg riboflavin (B2), 64 mg niacin, and 6 mg pyridoxine (B6) were each associated with up to a 50% decreased risk of developing AIDS and dying.

The authors also note that adequate vitamin status reduces the risk of mothers transmitting HIV to their babies either during birth or through breast milk.

Reference: Epidemiology July 9, 1998; 4:457-68.

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Nutrition's Role In Conception

Between 10% and 20% of all couples are infertile. About 40% of the time, failure to conceive is related to sperm problems. In about 10%, the cause is unknown.

Studies have found that abnormal weight is the cause of infertility in about 12% of women whose ovaries are not functioning properly.

Deficiencies of several nutrients also seem to interfere with fertility. The following nutrients are the most promising candidates for supplementation.

Vitamin B6: Some studies of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) have found supplementation to be effective at improving a woman's chances for conception.

In one study, a group of 14 women, all with premenstrual syndrome and who had been infertile for at least 18 months, were given enough pyridoxine to relieve their premenstrual symptoms. Within six months, 11 of the 14 women conceived.

Folic acid: In one report, three women who had been infertile for several years were found to have abnormally large red blood cells caused by folate deficiency. After they began folic acid supplementation, all laboratory evidence of folate deficiency disappeared, and all three women became pregnant.

Vitamin B12: Infertility may occur as part of the syndrome caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. In a referenced study, seven out of eight women with pernicious anemia who had been infertile for some years became pregnant within one year of starting vitamin B12 supplements.

Multivitamin/multimineral supplements: The simplest approach for a woman wishing to become pregnant would be to improve her diet and to start a multivitamin/multimineral supplement to ensure that she receives adequate nutrition. In a randomized, scientific, double-blind study, women trying to conceive who took a general nutritional supplement had a small, but statistically significant, improvement in their odds of conceiving.

References: Wynn, A., Wynn, M. The need for nutritional assessment in the treatment of the infertile patient. J Nutr Med 1990; 1:315-24. Czeizel, A.E. Periconceptional folic acid containing multivitamin supplementation. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1998; 78(2):151-61.

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Omega-3 Fats And Cancer

In a recent trial, Charalambox A. Gogos, M.D., and colleagues from Patras University Medial School in Greece investigated the relationship of dietary fats to cancer in humans.

The researchers studied 60 people with advanced cancer who had not received chemotherapy or immunomodulating drugs in the previous four months. Half took a placebo and half took 18 mg of fish oil, 115 mg DHA, and 200 mg vitamin E. Each group was subdivided into patients with good nutritional status and those who were malnourished. Fifteen healthy volunteers served as controls. Blood tests measured immunity indicators such as T cell levels and synthesis of immune-regulating chemicals including interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor.

Compared to well-nourished subjects, the malnourished patients had decreased T cell levels and a low ratio of immune-enhancing T helper cells to immune-hindering T suppressor cells. After 40 days of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, malnourished patients had significantly higher levels of T cells, and their ratios of T helper to T suppressor cells improved. Fatty acid supplementation also normalized their baseline deficits of tumor necrosis factor.

In general, well-nourished patients survived more than twice as long as those who were malnourished-an average of 481 days versus 213 days. Compared to placebo, fatty acid supplementation significantly increased patient survival, most notably in well-nourished patients who took both omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin E.

Reference: Cancer Jan 15, 1998; 82(2):395-402.

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Two studies headed by P. Chithra at the Central Leather Research Institute in Madras, India, confirm the wound-mending abilities of aloe and hint at its cellular workings.

In the first study, researchers investigated the effect of aloe gel on glycosaminoglycans, skin components that influence wound healing.

After treatment, tissue levels of several glycosaminoglycans rose significantly. It seems that aloe improves wound healing by increasing synthesis of glycosaminoglycans.

In the second study, researchers looked at aloe's effect on wound healing in diabetics. Connective tissue abnormalities, such as diminished collagen content, are largely responsible for diabetics' poor wound-healing abilities.

Compared with the placebo group, tissue collagen content increased 89% in the group treated with topical aloe and 83% in subjects receiving oral aloe. Compared with the placebo group, the tensile strength of the wounds treated with aloe nearly doubled.

The authors speculate that aloe gel might accelerate wound healing by lowering blood glucose levels or by stimulating the function of fibroblasts, the cells that make collagen.

Reference: Journal of Ethnopharmacology Jan, 1998; 58:179-86 and 59:195-201.

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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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