Seasonal allergies, also called “hay fever,” are triggered each spring, summer, and fall when trees, weeds, and grasses release pollen into the air. When the pollen ends up in your nose and throat, it can bring on sneezing, runny nose, coughing, and itchy eyes and throat. Pollen counts tend to be the highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and the lowest during chilly, wet periods. People manage seasonal allergies by taking medication, avoiding exposure to the substances that trigger their allergic reactions, or having a series of “allergy shots” (a form of immunotherapy).
People also try various complementary approaches to manage their allergies. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, “respiratory allergy” is among the 15 conditions for which children in the United States most often use complementary approaches. If you are considering any complementary health approach for the relief of seasonal allergy symptoms, here are some things you need to know.
- Nasal saline irrigation. There is reasonably good evidence that saline nasal irrigation (putting salt water into one nostril and draining it out the other) can be useful for modest improvement of allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation is generally safe; however, neti pots and other rinsing devices must be used and cleaned properly. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, tap water that is not filtered, treated, or processed in specific ways is not safe for use as a nasal rinse.
- Butterbur extract. There are hints that the herb butterbur may decrease the symptoms associated with nasal allergies. However, there are concerns about its safety.
- Honey. Only a few studies have looked at the effects of honey on seasonal allergy symptoms, and there is no convincing scientific evidence that honey provides symptom relief. Eating honey is generally safe; however, children under 1 year of age should not eat honey. People who are allergic to pollen or bee stings may also be allergic to honey.
- Acupuncture. Only a few small studies have been conducted on acupuncture for relief of seasonal allergy symptoms, and the limited scientific evidence currently available has not shown acupuncture to be beneficial in treating seasonal allergies.
- Talk to your health care provider. If you suffer from seasonal allergies and are considering a complementary health approach, talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your symptoms. You may find that when the pollen count is high, staying indoors, wearing a mask, or rinsing off when you come inside can help.
Most psychiatrists and mental health experts are aware that a person’s environment – the things happening around them and to them – are often as influential in their mental disorders as are anything physical or genetic.
With the rising rate of mental health diagnoses among North Americans, however, questions about how much of that is environmental are being asked more often.
A recent collaboration of research between several prominent universities in the U.S. is asking not only whether environmental factors are to blame, but also whether the rise in diagnosis rates may be due to problems with the psychiatric manual itself.
The team, made up of researchers from New York University, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Rutgers University argues that the DSM-5 – the new version of the “psychiatric bible” for diagnosis – may have missed critical population-level and social determinants of mental health disorders and their diagnoses. This would mean that the DSM is mischaracterizing the rates of some afflictions.
Copyright © 2013 Albert Yeung 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.
Background. This pilot study examined the feasibility and efficacy of providing Qigong treatment in a health center to Chinese Americans with major depressive disorder (MDD). Methods. Fourteen Chinese Americans with MDD were enrolled, and they received a 12-week Qigong intervention. The key outcome measurement was the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D17); the Clinical Global Impressions-Severity (CGI-S) and -Improvement (CGI-I), the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire, Short Form (Q-LES-Q-SF), and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) were also administered. Positive response was defined as a decrease of 50% or more on the HAM-D17, and remission was defined as HAM-D17 ? 7. Patients’ outcome measurements were compared before and after the Qigong intervention. Results. Participants (N=14) were 64% female, with a mean age of 53 (±14). A 71% of participants completed the intervention. The Qigong intervention resulted in a positive treatment-response rate of 60% and a remission rate of 40% and statistically significant improvement, as measured by the HAM-D17, CGI-S, CGI-I, Q-LES-Q-SF, and the family support subscale of the MSPSS. Conclusions. The Qigong intervention provided at a health care setting for the treatment of primary care patients with MDD is feasible. Further studies with larger sample sizes are warranted.
1.1. Depression and Disparities in Treatment among Chinese Americans
There are tremendous racial health disparities in the treatment of depression . Ethnic minorities face both practical and cultural barriers to mental health care. Asian Americans frequently lack the resources to seek help, suffer from language barriers, and hold strong stigma towards psychiatric illnesses, leading to the undertreatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) . There is a pressing need for culturally sanctioned interventions for depressed Asian Americans.
1.2. Qigong for the Treatment of Depression
Qigong is a form of exercise that incorporates orchestrated body postures, breath practices, and meditation to attain deeply focused and relaxed states . The Qigong practices are thought to activate naturally occurring physiological and psychological mechanisms of self-repair and health recovery . Most Qigong forms involve slow gentle movements that can be easily adapted and are thus appropriate for people of all ages, fitness levels, and physical conditions. Furthermore, Qigong is relatively inexpensive and easy to learn and requires very little space to practice.
The health effects of Qigong have been reported in various populations with chronic conditions, including high blood pressure [5, 6], bone loss , and cardiac disease rehabilitation . While there is increasing evidence on the benefits of the Qigong practice for physical symptoms, its effects on psychological symptoms have yet to be established. Preliminary research has shown Qigong’s beneficial effects on a range of psychological well-being measures, including mood, anxiety/depression, general stress management, and quality of life [9–12], but most of the studies recruited healthy subjects or patients with a chronic medical condition but not patients diagnosed with MDD. It has been proposed that Qigong, as a mind-body group exercise, is useful for self-management of depression by alleviating the stress effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, decreasing negative thoughts, and increasing social support [13, 14].
In this study, we examined the feasibility and safety of offering Qigong at a health center for Chinese Americans with MDD as a stress management technique. We hypothesize that it is feasible and safe to use Qigong for treating Chinese Americans with MDD in a health care setting and that Qigong is effective in reducing depressive symptoms and improving social functioning, based on standardized questionnaires on depression, quality of life, and social support as perceived by the patient.
Fourteen Chinese Americans with MDD were enrolled in the study (64% female, mean age 53 +- 14). The baseline and demographic characteristics of participants are listed in Table 1. Most participants had positive expectations that Qigong would help their depression (“not helpful”: 0%, “maybe”: 64%, “yes”: 29%, and “definitely”: 7%). Ten (71%) participants completed the intervention, based on having attended more than 15 (62.5%) sessions. No adverse events due to the Qigong intervention were reported. The participants showed a lot of enthusiasm in class. During the 10-minute intermission time, they were eager to share learning experience with their peer participants and asked the instructor questions on the theories and technical aspects of Qigong. Participants reported practicing Qigong on the average four days a week at home (4.0 +_ 2.0) both at week 6 and week 12 assessments, which exceeded our expectation of three days a week of home practice.
At baseline, patients had an average HAM-D17 score of 21.4, which corresponded to being moderately depressed . The Qigong intervention resulted in a positive treatment-response rate of 60% and a remission rate of 40%, and statistically significant improvement in HAM-D17…
from the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University, California.
Currently, NASA has plans for extended space travel, and previous research indicates that space radiation can have negative effects on cognitive skills as well as physical and mental health. With long-term space travel, astronauts will be exposed to greater radiation levels. Research shows that an antioxidant-enriched diet may offer some protection against the cellular effects of radiation and may provide significant neuroprotection from the effects of radiation-induced cognitive and behavioral skill deficits. Ninety-six C57BL/6 mice (48 pomegranate fed and 48 control) were irradiated with proton radiation (2?Gy), and two-month postradiation behaviors were assessed using a battery of behavioral tests to measure cognitive and motor functions. Proton irradiation was associated with depression-like behaviors in the tail suspension test, but this effect was ameliorated by the pomegranate diet. Males, in general, displayed worse coordination and balance than females on the rotarod task, and the pomegranate diet ameliorated this effect. Overall, it appears that proton irradiation, which may be encountered in space, may induce a different pattern of behavioral deficits in males than females and that a pomegranate diet may confer protection against some of those effects.
Astronauts have traveled outside Earth’s atmosphere into lower Earth orbit and beyond for decades. However, these individuals are constantly exposed to ionizing radiation that may have deleterious effects on motor and cognitive abilities, as well as physical and mental health [1, 2] via increased oxidative stress [3, 4]. With plans to extend space travel beyond lower Earth orbit for longer durations (i.e., manned expeditions to Mars), radiation exposure will increase. A diet rich with polyphenols (which have antioxidant and other biologically beneficial properties) may confer enough protection to maintain the complex cognitive and fine motor skills required by astronauts.
Phytochemicals, including the phenols, terpenes, and organosulfurs, are nonnutritive, bioactive compounds commonly found in plants and animals and are known for their protective properties. Phytochemicals not only protect the plants that produce them against metabolic and environmental disease but also, when consumed, can provide numerous health benefits to humans [5, 6]. Foods containing phytochemicals have been shown to ameliorate cognitive and behavioral deficits resulting from various diseases [7, 8]. These findings have often been attributed to the antioxidant, antiapoptotic, and anti-inflammatory properties of phytochemicals . Some fruits, for example, contain polyphenols that can impart extensive protective properties against damage from oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and cognitive/behavioral deficits induced by radiation and/or aging [10–12].
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) have a high polyphenol concentration, and the juice may have 2-3 times greater antioxidant capacity compared to other antioxidant sources such as red wine or green tea [13–22]. Pomegranate polyphenols include flavonoids (i.e., quercetin) and tannins (i.e., punicalagins and ellagitannins). Flavonoids and tannins have specifically been shown to decrease oxidative stress by deactivating reactive oxygen species  and scavenging free radicals [19, 22]. Although these isolated pomegranate polyphenols have antioxidant properties when acting individually, research suggests that the whole range of polyphenols found in pomegranates combines synergistically to prevent oxidative stress-induced damage. Indeed, one study analyzing the antiapoptotic properties of pomegranate juice found the whole juice to be more effective than any one isolated component . Furthermore, pomegranate juice has been found to ameliorate both amyloid-? plaque load as well as associated spatial learning deficits in a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease .
Altogether, this evidence suggests that the polyphenols found in pomegranates could provide an effective therapy against radiation-induced neurological and cognitive/behavioral deficits. No studies to date have looked at the radioprotective effects of pomegranate antioxidants; however, the evidence indicates that antioxidants may be beneficial in ameliorating the negative effects of ionizing radiation. Therefore, this study explores the putative protective effects of pomegranate juice on radiation-induced cognitive and behavioral deficits.
There were no effects of radiation or pomegranate treatment for the water maze (cued and spatial learning). The most striking interaction between radiation and pomegranate treatment on behavior was observed in the tail suspension test (Figure 1), which provides an assessment of depression-like behaviors. Irradiated control-fed mice exhibited more depression-like behaviors (i.e., the mice gave up sooner) than nonirradiated control-fed mice, but radiation did not have this effect on pomegranate-fed mice (F(1,82) = 4.92, P<.3). There was no difference in the performance of males versus females on this test.
Carica papaya Leaves Juice Significantly Accelerates the Rate of Increase in Platelet Count among Patients with Dengue Fever and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
The study was conducted to investigate the platelet increasing property of Carica papaya leaves juice (CPLJ) in patients with dengue fever (DF). An open labeled randomized controlled trial was carried out on 228 patients with DF and dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). Approximately half the patients received the juice, for 3 consecutive days while the others remained as controls and received the standard management. Their full blood count was monitored 8 hours for 48 hours. Gene expression studies were conducted on the ALOX 12 and PTAFR genes. The mean increase in platelet counts were compared in both groups using repeated measure ANCOVA. There was a significant increase in mean platelet count observed in the intervention group (P < 0.001) but not in the control group 40 hours since the first dose of CPLJ. Comparison of mean platelet count between intervention and control group showed that mean platelet count in intervention group was significantly higher than control group after 40 and 48 hours of admission (P < 0.01). The ALOX 12 (FC??=??15.00) and PTAFR (FC??=??13.42) genes were highly expressed among those on the juice. It was concluded that CPLJ does significantly increase the platelet count in patients with DF and DHF.
Malaysia is blessed with 12000 species of flowering plants of which 1300 have medicinal properties . There is a rapidly growing response to the use of medicinal plants by the Malaysian population. WHO estimates that in many countries 80% of the rural patients seek alternative treatment using medicinal plants.
Carica papaya is a member of the Caricaceae and is a dicotyledonous, polygamous, and diploid species . It originated from Southern Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America. It is now cultivated in many tropical countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and the West Indies including Malaysia. Malaysia is known to be one of the top 5 papaya exporting countries . The papaya fruit is globally consumed either in its fresh form or the form of juices, jams, and crystallized dry fruit . The ripe fruit is said to be a rich source of vitamin A, C, and calcium . There are many commercial products derived from the different parts of the C. papaya plant, the most prominent being papain and chymopapain, which is produced from the latex of the young fruit, stem, and the leaves. C. papaya leaves have been used in folk medicine for centuries. Recent studies have shown its beneficial effect as an anti-inflammatory agent , for its wound healing properties , antitumour as well as immune-modulatory effects  and as an antioxidant . A toxicity study (acute, subacute, and chronic toxicity) conducted on Sprague Dawley rats administered with Carica papaya leaves juice (CPLJ) of the sekaki variant revealed that it was safe for oral consumption .
Dengue is an arthropod-borne viral disease carried by Aedes aegypti as the vector, caused by 4 possible viral serotypes, namely, serotype 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Flaviviridae family. In Malaysia, dengue cases have been on the rise since 2002. Total of 18,371 cases of dengue fever (DF) and dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) were reported last year and had claimed 33 lives in the same year . There is no specific antiviral drug available for the treatment of dengue infection. Infected patients receive supportive management with fluids, blood and blood, products complying to the Ministry of Health Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) on Management of Dengue, 2010. Each episode of infection is known to induce a life-long protective immunity to the homologous serotype but confers only partial and transient protection against subsequent infection by the other serotypes. Secondary infection is a major risk factor for DHF possibly due to antibody-dependent enhancement. A patient with dengue fever presents typically with fever, headache, and rash known as the dengue triad. There are many other nonspecific signs and symptoms associated with DF and patient can progress to DHF and typically manifests as abdominal pain, bleeding, and even circulatory collapse. The clinical course of dengue has an abrupt onset followed by three phases, namely, the febrile phase, the critical phase and the recovery phase. It is during the critical phase that thrombocytopaenia, characterized by a decrease in platelet count below 100 000?per?mm3 from the baseline and haemoconcentration, characterized by an increase of haematocrit by 20% or more, is detectable before the subsidence of fever and the onset of shock .
Certain genes have been shown to influence platelet production and platelet aggregation, namely, the Arachidonate 12-lipoxygenase (ALOX 12) also known as the Platelet-type Lipoxygenase as well as the Platelet-Activating Factor Receptor (PTAFR). An increase in activity of these genes is required for platelet production and activation. The ALOX 12 gene is strongly expressed in megakaryocytes and has been known to be responsible for the 12-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) production of platelets . The PTAFR gene was been found to be expressed in megakaryocytes indicating that it could be a precursor for platelet production in addition to its well known role in platelet aggregation .
Safety studies based on OECD guidelines for acute, subacute, and chronic toxicity were conducted on C. papaya extract and showed that it was found to be safe for human consumption . The present study was conducted to determine and investigate the traditional claim that CPLJ increases the platelet count in patients with DF and DHF.
A total of 145 patients were recruited into the interventional group while 145 patients were recruited into the control group. At the end of the study, 111 patients from the interventional group and 117 controls were included in the statistical analysis. Sixty-two patients were excluded from the analysis as 38 patients were lost to followup and 24 patients had incomplete data (missing results due to sample rejection).
Table 1 shows demographic characteristics and baseline biochemistry investigation of respondents by treatment. In terms of dengue status, all patients recruited had either dengue NS1 or IgM or both detected, while the percentage distribution of the dengue serotypes among them was DEN1 (30.4%), DEN2 (28.4%), DEN 3 (20.6%), and DEN 4 (20.6%). Hence, all serotypes were well represented in the study.
Table 2 presents the multiple comparisons of mean platelet count 8 hours after admission with mean platelet count at 16, 24, 32, 40, and 48 hours after admission for interventional and control group Multiple paired t-test was conducted to demonstrate if there was any significant difference in mean platelet count for each comparison. Hence, Bonferroni correction was applied to reduce the possibility of rejecting a true null hypothesis (committing a type 1 error). Based on the number of patients recruited with complete data (111 patients from the intervention group and 117 control), the power of study was 87.0% (standard deviation of platelet count of 40,000, type I error probability of 0.01, and the true difference in mean platelet count of 20,000 between the intervention and control group). Overall, there was a significant increase in mean platelet count over 40 hours in both groups (Wilk’s Lambda = 0.939, P=0.015, effect size = 0.06, and power = 84.0%) after adjusting for age. Further analysis by using multiple paired t-test on each of the groups showed that there was a significant increase in mean platelet count at 40 hours compared to 8 hours after intervention in the intervention group (t=-4.256, P <= 0.001) but not in the control group (t=-2.399, P=0.018) after adjustment of Bonferroni correction (P=0.05/5 = 0.01).
No, meat is not unsafe—nor is L-carnitine.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine associates the amino acid L-carnitine, found in red meat, supplements, and sports supplements, with the risk of heart disease. Here are some examples of what the media said about it: The Daily Mail (UK): “Red meat nutrient used in weight-loss and muscle-building supplements could cause heart disease”! The Dallas News: “Put down that steak! (and energy drinks, too); the carnitine in these foods may increase risk of cardiovascular disease”!
Studies have already shown that Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent heart disease and some other health conditions. A new set of studies, however, has also shown that these fatty acids can help prevent or treat breast cancers in women.
The first of the research, conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, examines a direct link between eating fish and death rates. After sixteen years of study of more than two thousand American adults over age 65, the initial findings were that those who regularly consumed Omega-3 fatty acids had a lower risk of early death.
Another portion of the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that patients with high levels of these fatty acids had 27 percent lower death rates than others.
A group at the University of Guelph, lead by David Ma, PhD, has shown preliminary findings of improved breast cancer intervention with Omega-3 fatty acids. The findings show that cancer growth is thirty percent lower than typical growth when high levels of these fatty acids are present in the blood. The research is ongoing, with the next phase meant to prove prevention may be possible with Omega-3′s.
The three beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These three are common associated with fish oils, ingested by either eating fish or taking supplements. All three have been studied extensively in relation to coronary diseases.
Still think that the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011 never affected the United States public? Young children born in the United States West Coast, right in the line of fire for radioactive isotopes, have been found to be 28% more likely to develop congenital hypothyroidism than infants born the year before the incident.
The study followed children born in California, Alaska, Washingto, Hawaii, and Oregon between 1 and 16 weeks after the horrific meltdown at Fukushima back in March 2011. Published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics by researchers affiliated with the Radiation and Public Health Project, the information further lends credence to previous documentation regarding the way in which radioactive fallout ended up on US soil.
The researchers explained how radioactive fallout affected the entirety of the US in varying degrees:
“Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the U.S., and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation,” they wrote.
Scientists have developed a new method of replacing missing teeth with a bioengineered material generated from a person’s own gum cells
Scientists have developed a new method of replacing missing teeth with a bioengineered material generated from a person’s own gum cells. Current implant-based methods of whole tooth replacement fail to reproduce a natural root structure and as a consequence of the friction from eating and other jaw movement, loss of jaw bone can occur around the implant. The research is led by Professor Paul Sharpe, an expert in craniofacial development and stem cell biology at King’s College London and published in the Journal of Dental Research.
Research towards achieving the aim of producing bioengineered teeth – bioteeth – has largely focused on the generation of immature teeth (teeth primordia) that mimic those in the embryo that can be transplanted as small cell ‘pellets’ into the adult jaw to develop into functional teeth.
Remarkably, despite the very different environments, embryonic teeth primordia can develop normally in the adult mouth and thus if suitable cells can be identified that can be combined in such a way to produce an immature tooth, there is a realistic prospect bioteeth can become a clinical reality. Subsequent studies have largely focussed on the use of embryonic cells and although it is clear that embryonic tooth primordia cells can readily form immature teeth following dissociation into single cell populations and subsequent recombination, such cell sources are impractical to use in a general therapy.
Professor Sharpe says: ‘What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelial and mesenchymal cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants.’
In this new work, the researchers isolated adult human gum tissue from patients at the Dental Institute at King’s College London, grew more of it in the lab, and then combined it with the cells of mice that form teeth. By transplanting this combination of cells into mice the researchers were able to grow hybrid human/mouse teeth containing dentine and enamel, as well as viable roots.
Professor Sharpe concludes: ‘Epithelial cells derived from adult human gum tissue are capable of responding to tooth inducing signals from embryonic tooth mesenchyme in an appropriate way to contribute to tooth crown and root formation and give rise to relevant differentiated cell types, following in vitro culture.
‘These easily accessible epithelial cells are thus a realistic source for consideration in human biotooth formation. The next major challenge is to identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this.’
Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells. Folic acid is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas, and nuts. Enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products also contain folic acid. Folic acid is also available as a dietary supplement.
For women who get pregnant, taking folic acid is especially important. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. According to a new study from Norway published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who took folic acid supplements before and just after becoming pregnant were less likely to have a child with autism. Authors of an editorial published in the same issue of the journal noted that while this study is encouraging, it is important to confirm this finding in other populations.
- Surén P, Roth C, Bresnahan M, et al. Association between maternal use of folic acid supplements and risk of autism spectrum disorders in children. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013;309(6):570–577.
- Berry RJ, Crider KS, Yeargun-Allsopp M. Periconceptional folic acid and risk of autism spectrum disorders. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013;309(6):611–613.