Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are characterized by progressive loss of neurons in sensory, motor, and cognitive systems. Based on limited knowledge on the pathogenic mechanisms of the diseases, some drugs have been developed. For example, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist have been widely used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. However, these drugs have not shown promising results and tolerance may be developed after a short period of treatment. The etiopathology of neurodegenerative diseases is extremely complex and has not been fully revealed. It is reasonable to expect that drugs acting on multiple targets can provide better treatment results than those acting on a single target for these diseases. Some herbal remedies have been used traditionally for improving cognitive function and treating mental diseases for many years. These drugs contain a number of active ingredients and can be the potential candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
In the special issue of “Application of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Neurodegenerative Disorders” published last year, we have collected papers on the application of complementary and alternative medicine for treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. In this year, Alzheimer’s disease is still a hot topic of investigation. Alzheimer’s disease is a well-known neurodegenerative disease characterized by a progressive deterioration of cognitive function and memory. Although the pathological mechanism of the disease is not fully understood, the deposition of beta-amyloid and the generation of reactive oxygen species are believed to play important roles in the pathogenesis of the disease. Therefore, neurotoxicity induced by beta-amyloid or oxidants has been commonly used as a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease. In this issue, C.-F. Ng et al. reported that a decoction of Gastrodiae Rhizoma (rhizome of Gastrodia elata Bl.) was able to protect against in vivo and in vitro neurotoxicity induced by beta-amyloid through the inhibition of apoptosis and oxidative damage. A similar study by M. Maiwulanjiang et al. showed that Song Bu Li decoction, a herbal remedy prepared by boiling with Nardostachyos Radix et Rhizoma, protected against cellular toxicity induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide in cultured PC12 cells. They suggested that the protective effect of the herbal drug was mediated by activating the transcriptional activity of antioxidant response element.
Previous studies by Y.-F. Xian et al. have identified an active ingredient (isorhynchophylline) from Uncariae Ramulus cum Uncis by bioassay-guided fractionation which is effective in inhibiting neurotoxicity induced by beta-amyloid. In this special issue, the authors suggested that the protective effect of isorhynchophylline against beta-amyloid-induced cytotoxicity in PC12 cells was associated with the enhancement of p-CREB expression via PI3K/Akt/GSK-3? signaling pathway.
Apart from bioassay-guided isolation, high-throughput screening is another commonly used method to search for novel drugs. In recent years, a new method of drug discovery (in silico virtual screening) has been adopted by many researchers. By modelling the laboratory processes such as the binding of molecules to a receptor via computer algorithms, potential drugs can be identified and then confirmed by biological testing. This approach will greatly reduce laboratory works in high-throughput screening. In this special issue, Y. Wang et al. have identified twelve phytochemicals as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors by using in silico screening method. Subsequent biological tests conducted by the research team showed that acetylshikonin was the most effective compound among these acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in preventing apoptosis induced by hydrogen peroxide in neuronal SH-SY5Y and PC12 cells.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder which is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of ventral midbrain area. Tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability are the typical symptoms observed in patients suffering from the disease. 6-Hydroxydopamine is a neurotoxin which can selectively destroy dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Therefore, neurotoxicity induced by 6-hydroxydopamine is commonly used as a model of Parkinson’s disease. By using this model, X.-B. Meng et al. demonstrated that notoginsenoside R2, a triterpenoid isolated from Notoginseng Radix et Rhizoma (root and rhizome of Panax notoginseng), protected against neurotoxicity through the enhancement of phase II detoxifying enzymes which were triggered by the activation of MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathways. Besides, a literature review by S.-V. More et al. indicated that a lot of chemical ingredients isolated from herbal medicine could be the potential drugs for treating Parkinson’s disease.
The prevention of illness by maintaining homeostasis and enhancing body’s defense is a major goal of herbal medicine. K.-Y. Zhu et al. showed that Kai-Xin-San, a herbal formula prescribed traditionally to treat stress-related psychiatric diseases, was able to stimulate the expression and secretion of neurotrophic factors in cultured astrocytes. These neurotrophic factors are playing important roles in maintaining the survival, growth, and differentiation of neurons. The depletion of neurotrophic factors can lead to neuronal death which contributes to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. By using similar techniques, S.-L. Xu et al. demonstrated that a lot of flavonoids isolated from herbal materials were able to induce the synthesis and secretion of neurotrophic factors, including nerve growth factor, glial-derived neurotrophic factor, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
In the last special issue, we have mentioned that clinical trial is needed to provide supporting evidence for the application of herbal medicine on neurodegenerative disorders. In this issue, a clinical report by W. Pan et al. showed that Jiawei Sijunzi decoction, a six-herb herbal formula, delayed the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in some patients. We still hope that large-scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial can be collected in the coming issues.
Spirulina is a type of green algae that grows in fresh water bodies. It is a survivor plant which, unlike most flora, is able to withstand considerable temperature variations and still thrive. It is cultivated worldwide and has been harvested as a food source for thousands of years.
According to David Wolfe, author of the book, Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, spirulina is one of the most nutritious foods in the world. In fact, it has become synonymous with the “superfood” label. This article contains an overview of spirulina’s health benefits and the studies that confirm them.
Research into spirulina
Rich in nutrients – Spirulina’s biggest attraction is its incomparable levels of nutrients. According to spectral analysis provided by Self’s “NutritionData,” a 28 gram (1 ounce) serving of dried spirulina contains 44 percent of our RDI of iron, 32 percent of our RDI of protein, 60 percent of our RDI of riboflavin, 44 percent of our RDI of thiamin and a whopping 85 percent of our RDI of copper. The same serving size also contains smaller amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, numerous other B-vitamins and trace minerals, and essential fatty acids. This astonishing nutritional profile makes spirulina a near-perfect food, lacking only in vitamin D.
Cancer prevention – According to a 2004 study published in Biochemical Pharmacology, spirulina contains a protein, C-phycocyanin, that can significantly reduce the proliferation of cultured leukemia cells by causing the cells to undergo apoptosis (“cell death”). A later 2009 study published in the Cancer Science journal found that mice that were fed a spirulina extract had increased activity of natural killer cells (immune cells that kill cancer cells) than those fed the placebo. The researchers concluded that “NK activation by spirulina has some advantage in combinational use with BCG-cell wall skeleton for developing adjuvant-based antitumor immunotherapy.”
Antiviral properties – A 2005 study published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology has shown that spirulina’s “high concentration of natural nutrients” can improve white blood cell activity and stimulate antibodies. These properties make spirulina an excellent guard against many serious viruses. “[Spirulina preparations] have been found to be active against several enveloped viruses including herpes virus, cytomegalovirus, influenza virus and HIV,” claim the researchers. “They [...] inhibit carcinogenesis due to anti-oxidant properties that protect tissues and also reduce toxicity of liver, kidney and testes.”
Liver protection – Though consuming spirulina can boost the health of all our organs, research has shown that it is especially beneficial for our livers. An Indian-Malaysian study published in the December 2008 issue of International Journal of Integrative Biology, for instance, found that mice that were fed spirulina extracts experienced elevated liver enzymes, protecting them from liver damage. The researchers noted that spirulina’s antioxidant concentrations were responsible for this benefit.
Boosts brain function – A 2005 study published in the Journal of Experimental Neurology has demonstrated that a spirulina dose of 180 milligrams per kilogram of weight had the ability to reduce brain damage and aid the recovery of neurons in rats who had suffered strokes. The researchers acknowledged a connection between improved brain function and a “diet enriched in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.”
Sources for this article include:
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/043789_superfoods_spirulina_brain_cancer.html#ixzz2tGcgY99u
Effect of Wasabi Component 6-(Methylsulfinyl)hexyl Isothiocyanate and Derivatives on Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells
The naturally occurring compound 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate (6-MITC) was isolated from Wasabia japonica (Wasabi), a pungent spice used in Japanese food worldwide. The synthetic derivatives 6-(methylsulfenyl)hexyl isothiocyanate (I7447) and 6-(methylsulfonyl)hexyl isothiocyanate (I7557) are small molecule compounds derived from 6-MITC. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of these compounds on human pancreatic cancer cells. Human pancreatic cancer cell lines PANC-1 and BxPC-3 were used to perform an MTT assay for cell viability and Liu’s stain for morphological observation. The cell cycle was analyzed by DNA histogram. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity was used as a marker for cancer stem cells (CSC). Western blotting was performed for the expression of proteins related to CSC signaling. The results showed that compounds 6-MITC and I7557, but not I7447, inhibited viability of both PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. Morphological observation showed mitotic arrest and apoptosis in 6-MITC- and I7557-treated cells. These two compounds induced G2/M phase arrest and hypoploid population. Percentages of ALDH-positive PANC-1 cells were markedly reduced by 6-MITC and I7557 treatment. The expression of CSC signaling molecule SOX2, but not NOTCH1, ABCG2, Sonic hedgehog, or OCT4, was inhibited by 6-MITC and I7557. In conclusion, wasabi compounds 6-MITC and I7557 may possess activity against the growth and CSC phenotypes of human pancreatic cancer cells.
Back in 2008-2009, a lot of buzz was heard about olive oil and breast cancer. A study published in an open-source journal was spread widely through the Internet and media as “proof that olive oil could cure breast cancer”. The reality is a little more complicated than that and not nearly as headline-friendly.
The study was published in BMC Cancer in December, 2008 and actually followed a few studies before it and was in turn followed on by more studies afterward. The study specifically looked at how olive oil interacts with HER-2-positive breast carcinomas in vitro. Knowing what that means enlightens us to two things about the study:
1) HER-2 cancers are cancers that are responsive to the HER-2 hormone, which make up about 30 percent of breast cancers globally.
2) “In vitro” means the study was basically in petri dishes with specific amounts of cultured cancerous tissue and specific amounts of olive oil (or its compounds).
Knowing those two things, we can extract that the study proved that certain concentrations of olive oil extract (specifically EVOO polyphenols, a specific component of most olive oil) would inhibit or kill the cultures for about thirty percent of breast cancer types. In other words, it doesn’t “cure” all breast cancer and the study actually didn’t prove that it “cures” any of them. It did prove that a compound common to olive oil could play a role in preventing or halting breast cancer growth, but only in specific concentrations.
Those concentrations are another rub. They had to be in such high amounts that even the most Italian of Italian eaters isn’t likely to have ingested enough.
You can find out more about that study and the actual results, along with the cautions the study’s own authors gave (which were generally ignored by media) at WebMD here.
Does this debunk the idea that olive oil can help prevent or fight breast cancer? No.
Other studies have shown that olive oil intake, when done regularly, is linked to lower rates of cancer. These are often cited to “prove” the so-called “Mediterranean diet.” Other compounds in olive oil have other health benefits including even more apparent cancer-fighting properties. From this, we can deduce that at the very least, olive oil is a healthy addition to any diet. See here and here.
Mixed-Methods Research in a Complex Multisite VA Health Services Study: Variations in the Implementation and Characteristics of Chiropractic Services in VA
Maximizing the quality and benefits of newly established chiropractic services represents an important policy and practice goal for the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system. Understanding the implementation process and characteristics of new chiropractic clinics and the determinants and consequences of these processes and characteristics is a critical first step in guiding quality improvement. This paper reports insights and lessons learned regarding the successful application of mixed methods research approaches—insights derived from a study of chiropractic clinic implementation and characteristics, Variations in the Implementation and Characteristics of Chiropractic Services in VA (VICCS). Challenges and solutions are presented in areas ranging from selection and recruitment of sites and participants to the collection and analysis of varied data sources. The VICCS study illustrates the importance of several factors in successful mixed-methods approaches, including (1) the importance of a formal, fully developed logic model to identify and link data sources, variables, and outcomes of interest to the study’s analysis plan and its data collection instruments and codebook and (2) ensuring that data collection methods, including mixed-methods, match study aims. Overall, successful application of a mixed-methods approach requires careful planning, frequent trade-offs, and complex coding and analysis.
Copyright © 2013 Raheleh Khorsan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
You’ve likely seen the ads and features talking about the latest fitness app or the newest calorie-counting dieter’s app for the iPhone, Android, or other smart phones. What about mental health? Is there an app for that?
Well, as it turns out, there is. There are several, in fact. Few are clinically proven to be useful, however, but several are coming that will be.
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) debuted several helpful medical technologies that included some showcases of apps-in-testing for mental health. The 2013 mHealth Summit late last year also featured many apps in development to assist psychiatrists and psychologists in assessing a patient’s progress and well being.
Most of the apps that have potential are those which both help monitor and record the patient’s daily routines in and around mental health and help alleviate much of the paper and busywork that often takes up so much of a clinician’s time when they could be talking with the patient or furthering their treatment. These two apps cover both of these and add a lot of innovation to what can be done with data like this.
Evaluation of a Seven-Week Web-Based Happiness Training to Improve Psychological Well-Being, Reduce Stress, and Enhance Mindfulness and Flourishing: A Randomized Controlled Occupational Health Study
Background. As distress in society increases, including work environments, individual capacities to compete with stress have to be strengthened. Objective. We examined the impact of a web-based happiness training on psychological and physiological parameters, by self-report and objective means, in an occupational health setting. Methods. Randomized controlled trial with 147 employees. Participants were divided into intervention (happiness training) and control groups (waiting list). The intervention consisted of a seven-week online training. Questionnaires were administered before, after, and four weeks after training. The following scales were included: VAS (happiness and satisfaction), WHO-5 Well-being Index, Stress Warning Signals, Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, Recovery Experience Questionnaire, and Flourishing Scale. Subgroup samples for saliva cortisol and alpha-amylase determinations were taken, indicating stress, and Attention Network Testing for effects on attention regulation. Results. Happiness (P=0.0; d=0.93 ), satisfaction (P=0.0; d=1.17), and quality of life (P=0.0; d=1.06) improved; perceived stress was reduced (P=0.003; d=0.64); mindfulness (P=0.006; d=0.62 ), flourishing (P=0.002; d=0.63), and recovery experience (0.030; d=0.42) also increased significantly. No significant differences in the Attention Network Tests and saliva results occurred (intergroup), except for one saliva value. Conclusions. The web-based training can be a useful tool for stabilizing health/psychological well-being and work/life balance.
Copyright © 2013 T. Feicht et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
A Randomized Controlled Neurophysiological Study of a Chinese Chan-Based Mind-Body Intervention in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder
Our previous studies have reported the therapeutic effects of 10-session Chinese Chan-based Dejian mind-body interventions (DMBI) in reducing the intake of antidepressants, improving depressive symptoms, and enhancing the attentional abilities of patients with depression. This study aims to explore the possible neuroelectrophysiological mechanisms underlying the previously reported treatment effects of DMBI in comparison with those of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Seventy-five age-, gender-, and education-matched participants with depression were randomly assigned to receive either CBT or DMBI or placed on a waitlist. Eyes-closed resting EEG data were obtained individually before and after 10 weeks. After intervention, the DMBI group demonstrated significantly enhanced frontal alpha asymmetry (an index of positive mood) and intra- and interhemispheric theta coherence in frontoposterior and posterior brain regions (an index of attention). In contrast, neither the CBT nor the waitlist group showed significant changes in EEG activity patterns. Furthermore, the asymmetry and coherence indices of the DMBI group were correlated with self-reported depression severity levels and performance on an attention test, respectively. The present findings provide support for the effects of a Chinese Chan-based mind-body intervention in fostering human brain states that can facilitate positive mood and an attentive mind.
Copyright © 2013 Agnes S. Chan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Eating disorders are becoming a widespread phenomenon in the United States and Canada. The number of places in the U.S. that are legalizing marijuana for medicinal use is also growing rapidly. Yet rarely is an eating disorder considered a valid reason to issue a prescription (or permit) for marijuana use as medicine. Why is that?
At least 24 million Americans have an eating disorder and these disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to statistics from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (see more stats here). Also according to ANAD, about half of all people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression, only about 10 percent of those with an eating disorder receive treatment for it, and anorexia is the third most common disorder for adolescents and the death rate for those with it is 12 times higher than the average.
All of this points towards one thing: With anorexia and similar eating disorders being chronic illnesses that are not easily treated and often going untreated, would not a simple, self-regulatory medication that is readily available and relatively low-cost be key?
Most cancers are generally related, though that does not mean that one type will cause another. The Cancer Genome Atlas Project has been mapping cancer genes and has found many genetic similarities between various cancer types, with colon, breast and melanoma, for example, being inter-related genetically.
It will, however, be quite some time before their work is complete and a “map” of the various cancer genes and cells can be viewed to find any actual correlations. So far, only a generalized overview of cancer genetics has been completed.
Other correlations that are known to exist, such as the BRCA genetic link to breast and ovarian cancers, have been researched as possible links to colon cancer as well, but results have been inconclusive. Research in Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics found that breast cancer plays an important role in colon cancer development, but conflicted research in The Journal of The National Cancer Institute found nothing of the sort. Other research has been similarly at odds either showing a link or disproving it.
Another common link is PJS, which increases the risk of most kinds of cancer. Having it when diagnosed with breast cancer does not mean a specific rise in the risk of colon cancer, though, as it could just as well mean a rise in risk of liver, lymph, or other types of cancer as well. It’s a generalized risk factor, not a specific one.
So far, the general consensus among cancer research has been that there is no known, direct causative or correlative link between breast cancer and colon cancer. This does not mean there isn’t one, it just means that none has been found and so the going assumption is that it’s not of concern to breast cancer patients until a link is found.