Hot Topics & Readers’ Notes – 2-20-13

Antibiotic properties of honey

Honey has been used for centuries as a preservative, but an article appearing in the July 2010 FASEB Journal explains for the first time how honey kills bacteria. Bees add a special protein to honey which is part of the honey bee’s innate immune system. This protein, called defensin-1, has potent activity against Gram-positive bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis, methicillin-resistant S. aureus, E. coli, ciprofloxacin-resistant P. aeruginosa, and vancomycin-resistant E. faecium. Scientists hope one day to use defensin-1 to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections. You can read an summarizing this research HERE.


Itching to find dry skin relief?

Are you frustrated by skin that is dry, scaly, cracked, sensitive, itchy or showing age? Or do you care for someone with these issues? If so, ProHealth’s new line of Cabot skin care products may be the healing and protective help you’ve been looking for. ??A special feature of all Cabot skin care products, from body washes to creams and lotions, is that they’re rich in skin-enhancing phospholipids – a class of lipids (fats) that make up a major portion of all cell membranes, and as natural antioxidant and moisturizing agents can help fight irritation, inflammation and aging.  Read more…


Astaxanthin protects skin from sun exposure

An article in Science Daily tells about the skin-protecting benefits dermatologists have found in a dietary supplement called astaxanthin.  “Dermatologists recognize the benefits of a compound called astaxanthin. Found in red ocean plants and animals such as salmon, astaxanthin is the most effective and efficient free radical sponge in nature, which works to combat the free radicals created by skin exposed to ultraviolet rays. It is a powerful antioxidant that also reduces the pain and inflammation that occurs with sunburn. It is not a substitute for sunscreen, but a supplement provides the benefits of eating one to three pounds of salmon a day.

“For years you’’ve heard about the dangers of sun exposure. Now, instead of just relying on sunscreen – more help could soon come from a pill.” Read more…


Folic acid may ward off autism

A recent observational study in Norway found that women who take folic acid around the time of conception may lower the risk of autism in their offspring.  The study included 85,176 children born between 2002 and 2008.  Compared with women who did not take folic acid supplements, those who took folic acid from four weeks before to eight weeks after conception were less likely to have a child who was later diagnosed with autism.  Read more in this MedPage Today article.  


Gut flora may fix symptoms of autism

New Scientist has recently published a fascinating article about the role of gut flora in autism. Last year Sarkis Mazmanian and Paul Patterson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena discovered that when they infected pregnant mice with flu virus, their offspring demonstrated autism-like behaviors. Their discovery made headlines in the scientific community, but the researchers also noted that the bacteria present in the “autistic” gut were significantly different from bacteria found in mice without autism-like behavior. A separate study of autistic children performed in 2011 identified a significant lack of Bacteroides, gut bacteria that play a fundamental role in processing of complex molecules to simpler ones.

Intrigued by this finding, Mazmanian and Patterson fed “autistic” mice with a common species of Bacteroides. After ingesting the bacteria, the gut cells appeared to have stronger connections to one another. The cells also stopped expressing genes that raise inflammatory immune responses. Dr. Eric Hollander of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York says that while it is premature to propose leaky gut as the cause of autism, probiotics that modulate specific gut bacteria would be worth considering as a potential therapy to improve the symptoms. The implications of this statement are far-reaching. If leaky gut can be treated with gut flora, then other inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sj?gren’s, might be healed as well. You can read the full article HERE.


What works for Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of medical disorders characterized by obesity, which, in turn, poses a subsequent risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Some studies have indicated that in the USA 25% of the population may have metabolic syndrome. Prevalence increases with age.

A study conducted in Italy evaluated the effects of six?months of supplementation with Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark extract) on sixty-four people (range 45-55?years) with metabolic syndrome. The aim of the study was to improve risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome: central obesity, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and fasting blood glucose.

After six months of supplementation, Pycnogenol lowered fasting glucose from baseline 123 to 105. Men’s waist circumference decreased from 106.2 ?centimeters to 98.8? centimeters and women’s waist circumference decreased from 90.9??centimeters to 83.6?centimeters. In both genders, waist circumference reduction was significant as compared to controls. In addition, a decrease in plasma free radicals was noted in the Pycnogenol group as compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that “this study indicates a role for Pycnogenol for improving health risk factors in subjects with metabolic syndrome.”


Phytoestrogens help dry eye syndrome

Sicca (dry eyes and mouth) is a common complaint among post-menopausal women. While most gynecologists are happy to prescribe synthetic estrogen and progesterone to menopausal women, there has been very little research on natural bio-identical hormone treatment for sicca.

In a recent study conducted in Italy, sixty-six postmenopausal women with dry eye syndrome were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Half of the patients were treated with phytoestrogen, a plant-based estrogen (Bioos, Montegiorgio, Italy) for thirty days. The other half received placebos. Patients were examined before and after the thirty-day period.

Supplementation with phytoestrogens was found to be associated with significantly increased tear production and decreased tear break-up time, as compared with placebo. The authors concluded, “Our study confirms that steroid hormones play an important role in ocular surface equilibrium and functions. Consequently, reduced blood levels of these hormones can produce changes at the ocular surface.”


EFAs ideal for postmenopausal women

Researchers at the Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut recently conducted a randomized, double-blind pilot study to examine the effects of Omega-3 essential fatty acids on physical performance in postmenopausal women.

A total of 126 women were given either fish oil supplements (2 capsules containing 1.2 g EPA and DHA per day) or a placebo containing olive oil for a period of six months. The researchers found that walking speed and hand grip strength improved significantly after six months of treatment with fish oil. They also discovered that dietary increases in antioxidants (selenium and vitamin C) in combination with fish oil had the greatest contribution to change in walking speed.

They concluded that “physical performance, measured by change in walking speed, was significantly affected by fish oil supplementation. Dietary intake of antioxidants (selenium and vitamin C) and changes in TNFalpha also contributed to change in walking speed suggesting LCPUFA [long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] may interact with antioxidants and inflammatory response to impact physical performance.”  Read the abstract of this study HERE.

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