Monthly Archives: January 2014

On The Question Of Environmental Impact Of Exotic Herb Use

Although chocolate consumption has been heavily promoted in the recent years by health authorities and enthusiasts alike, it may not be the solution to the modern health problems if environmental consequences are to be taken into account. As suggested by a study conducted in Germany, high consumption of stimulant foods, such as tea, cocoa, coffee, and wine, leads to an unbalanced “virtual land use” – a measure of food sustainability on a national level. Reduction of consumption of these items together with following the officially recommended diet would ameliorate the problem. On the other hand, a switch to lacto-ovo-vegetarian or vegan diet would result in positive balance, even without dodging the stimulants.

This brings up an interesting perspective of viewing nature and health as two intrinsically connected properties. Unfortunately, this vision is not fully represented in modern health movements. The reason for this is, perhaps, the high degree of differentiation between scientific disciplines. Scientists study their single area of discipline, rarely connecting between each other. The mindset of our brightest ones affects the society in general. Hence, we often forget to look at the other end of the stick, even when caring for the greater good. We should be mindful of this broader perspective even – and especially – when we are looking to take care of ourselves.


Serum Metabolites Of Plant Extracts Decrease Hepatic Lipid Synthesis

A recently published research paper provides an example of use of an original experimental model. In this study, human hepatic cells were treated with serum metabolites of proanthocyanidin-rich extracts of cocoa, French maritime pine bark, and grape seed administered to rats. All groups of metabolites reduced lipid synthesis by the cells, including that of free cholesterol, cholesterol ester, and triglycerides. In particular, the grape seed extract metabolites reduced the lipid synthesis more so than the extract administered to the cells directly (Abstract).

This study is interesting for the reason that it appears to use an original research model, using metabolites of plant extract to be administered to cells in vitro. The preponderance of in vitro research to date appears to largely ignore the metabolic fate of plant compounds administered to both humans and animals. The compounds or preparations are applied to the cells directly and the effect is observed. This, however, may generate data that is incompatible with real-life circumstances, since ingested compounds rarely enter the blood – and, hence, all the internal tissues – unmetabolized. It may be painful to acknowledge that, because of this, the usefulness of most of the in vitro data to date is limited. In this study, the scientists found an original, if not to say, smart, way to circumvent this problem without having to perform costly pharmacokinetic experiments and synthesis of new molecules. We congratulate them on their ingenuity.

January 30, 2014 In Herbal Research

Clinical Trials

Coriandrum sativum (coriander) oil, 6%: applied as a soothing ointment (that’s the meaning of the phrase unguentum leniens), was highly effective in ameliorating fungal foot infection (also known as Athlete’s foot or tinea pedis) (Abstract)

Shenqi particle (traditional Chinese medicine): may be a promising therapy for adults with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (Abstract)

Rikkunshito (aka Liu Jun Zi Tang, Six-Gentleman Formula) stimulates gastric emptying in patients with proton-pump inhibitor-refractory laryngopharyngeal reflux (Abstract, Free full text)

January 28, 2014 In Herbal Research

Systematic review & meta-analysis

Traditional Chinese herbal decoctions for the treatment of gout: equal to Western medicine in efficacy, superior in controlling adverse drug effects (Abstract, Free full text)

Clinical trials

Juglans regia (common walnut) leaves, aqueous extract: significantly decreased total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (Abstract)

Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a prospective trial on chemotherapy-induced fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients (Abstract)

Read more for preclinical research and other updates: Continue reading

January 25, 2014 In Herbal Research


Draft amendment to drugs and cosmetics rules to license science-based botanicals, phytopharmaceuticals as drugs in India (Free full text)


An overview of phytotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (Abstract)

Crataegus spp.: cardiovascular disease prevention (Abstract, Free full text)

Immunopharmacology of the main herbal supplements (Echinacea, rodiola, ginseng) (Abstract)

Traditional Korean herbs and plants as immune-enhancing, antidiabetic, chemopreventive, and antioxidative agents (Abstract)

Other updates after the link. Continue reading

January 24, 2014 In Herbal Research: Part 2

Contrary to what was expected, although there was a large number of studies published on PubMed on this date, most of them were of fairly low significance, and we decided not to devote a special mention to them. For your record, all studies are also entered in the Alphabetical Herbs page (including those that are not mentioned in daily updates), so if you are interested in a particular herb, you can always go there and check the full list of studies.

We did find one study worthy of separate mention: It reports on important biological activities of a compound from Centella asiatica (gotu kola). See below.

Isolated Constituents

Asiatic acid: improvement of insulin sensitivity, lipid profiles, hemodynamic parameters, antiinflammatory and antioxidant activities in rats (Free full text)

January 24, 2014 In Herbal Research: Part 1

Oh My Herb (OMH)! One-hundred-sixty-one articles labeled “herb,” “herbal,” or “herbs” appeared in PubMed overnight! Sit back for a long update.


Effectiveness of traditional Chinese Astragalus spp.-containing herbal prescriptions in combination with radiotherapy in non-small-cell lung cancer: a meta-analysis (Abstract, Free full text)

Clinical trials

Juglans regia (common walnut) leaves, aqueous extract: significantly decreased serum fasting HbA1C and blood glucose levels and increased insulin levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (Abstract, Free full text)

Triptolide (a compound from Tripterygium wilfordii, Thunder God vine): used for nephrotic range proteinuria in children (Abstract)


Adverse reactions and safety concerns in herbal medicine: challenges in monitoring (Abstract, Free full text)

Effects of Kampo (traditional Japanese herbal medicine) on functional gastrointestinal disorders (Abstract, Free full text)

Phytotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (Abstract)

Continue reading

January 22, 2014 In Herbal Research: Part 2


Application of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Neurodegenerative Disorders 2013 (Free full text)

Preclinical Research | Individual Botanicals

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January 22, 2014 In Herbal Research: Part 1


Natural compounds with anticancer properties (Abstract)

Phospholipase 2A inhibitors from plants (snake venom antidotes) (Abstract)


Ginkgo biloba: no discernible positive cognition effects in healthy individuals (Abstract)

Clinical Trials

Curcumin: reduction of atherosclerosis risk in subjects with type 2 diabetes (Abstract)

Shensongyangxin (traditional polyherbal formulation): increase in heart rate in patients with bradycardia (Free full text)

Continue reading

January 21, 2014 In Herbal Research

Clinical trials

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Punica granatum (pomegranate) extracts: mouth rinse for gingival bleeding reduction (Abstract)

Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek): a meta-analysis of its effects on glycemia (Abstract, Free full text)

Continue reading