Mastic Gum for H. Pylori?

Mastic gum is the resin of Pistacia lentiscus. Production of Mastic is limited and its rarity makes it rather expensive. It has been used for over 2,500 years in traditional Greek medicine for treating diseases such as gastralgia and peptic ulcers. Modern research has documented Mastic’s beneficial action against H. Pylori, considered the main cause for gastric ulcers(1). Studies using Mastic have characterized it as a wide-range therapeutic agent demonstrating antimicrobial and antifungal activities among others. Additional research supports the numerous beneficial effects of Mastic gum, including the eradication of bacterial and fungi that may cause peptic ulcers, inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory substances by activated macrophages, and even the inhibition of growth of human tumors xenografted in immune-deficient mice(2). Mastic gum has been shown to significantly reduce the intensity of gastric mucosal damage induced by pyloric ligation, aspirin, phenylbutozone and reserpine via its antisecretory and cytoprotective activities(3). The wide pharmacological activities support Mastic’s beneficial effects in gastrointestinal disorders.

1. Paraschos S, et al. Chios gum mastic: A review of its biological activities. Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(14):2292-302.
2. Dimas KS, et al. Review: Chios mastic gum: a plant-produced resin exhibiting numerous diverse pharmaceutical and biomedical properties. In Vivo. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):777-85.
3. Bozorgi M, et al. Five Pistacia species (P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus): a review of their traditional uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacology. Scientific World Journal. 2013 Dec 15;2013:219815.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Cognitive Function in Aging Adults!

In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or mild cognitive impairment (pre-dementia phase of AD) changes in cognitive function and memory decline occur quicker than in normal aging. In this study, researchers looked at the effects of 2,200 mg of Omega-3 (n3) fatty acids (FA) taken daily for six months on memory function. Using LOCATO, a robust and sensitive tool for assessing object-location memory (OLM) in older adults to evaluate the impact of n3-FA on memory and learning formation, they conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled proof-of-concept study. 44 healthy female participants (50-74 yrs) completed before and after OLM-task (testing). As secondary outcome parameters, performance in Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT), dietary habits, omega-3-index, and other blood-derived parameters were assessed. They received either n3- FA or placebo for 26 weeks. Omega-3 index increased significantly in the n3-FA group compared to placebo. Recall of object locations was significantly better after n3-FA supplementation compared to placebo, although the AVLT was not significantly affected. This study provides further evidence that n3-FA exert positive effects on memory functions in healthy older adults, and the findings suggest novel strategies to maintain cognitive function into old age.

Külzow N, et al. Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Feb 10 2016 doi:10.3233/JAD-150886


Resveratrol, Inflammation, and Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic articular disease characterized by cartilage degradation and osteophyte formation, involves mechanical and hereditary factors. French researchers investigated pro-inflammatory paracrine interactions between human primary chondrocytes and macrophages following interleukin-1-β (IL-1β) treatment, to evaluate the molecular mechanism responsible for the inhibitory effect of resveratrol. They found that the activation of NF-kB in chondrocytes by IL-1β induced IL-6 secretion, which will then activate STAT3 protein in macrophages. Also, STAT3 was able to positively regulate IL-6 secretion, as confirmed by the doubling level of IL-6 in the coculture compared to macrophage monoculture. Resveratrol showed a strong inhibitory effect on the pro-inflammatory marker secretion. The decrease of IL-6 secretion is dependent on the NF-kB inhibition in the chondrocytes, and the reduction of the IL-6 level can limit STAT3 activation in the macrophages, leading to the interruption of the inflammatory amplification loop. Researchers concluded that these results increase our understanding of the anti-inflammatory actions of resveratrol and open new potential approaches to prevent and treat osteoarthritis.

Limagne, E, et al. Resveratrol Interferes with IL1-β-Induced Pro-Inflammatory Paracrine Interaction between Primary Chondrocytes and Macrophages. Nutrients 2016, 8,280; doi: 10.3390/nu8050280


SAMe for Depression?

A review in Naturopathic Currents looked at SAMe and its impact on mental health (1). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), the most frequently prescribed antidepressant, are frequently the first line treatment for depression. SSRI often provide inadequate symptom relief for mild-to-moderate depression, or a high relapse rate. Common side effects include fatigue, worsening mood, insomnia, poor concentration, loss of libido and weight gain. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study examined the ability of SAMe to augment the effectiveness of SSRI meds (2). Seventy three non-responders to SSRI treatment were enrolled. All continued to receive their SSRI plus 800 mg of oral SAMe BID or placebo. Over 36% of the SAMe group experienced treatment response compared to 17% in the placebo group, and 25% of the SAMe group experienced remission compared to only 11% of the placebo group. Researchers concluded that oral SAMe can be an effective, well-tolerated, and safe adjunctive treatment strategy for SSRI non-responders with major depressive disorder. Secondary analysis was performed on the same patients examining the effect of SAMe on the rate of cognitive-related impairments frequently associated with depression (3). Results showed a greater improvement in the ability to recall information, and a trend toward improved word-finding for the SAMe group vs. placebo. Researchers concluded that SAMe can improve memory-related cognitive symptoms in depressed patients.

1. Rouchotas P. S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) – Effects on mental health. Naturopathic Currents. Nov 6, 2014

2. Papakostas GI, et al. Evidence for S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant non-responders with major depressive disorder: a double-bling, randomized clinical trial. Amer J. Psychiatry 2010; 167 (8): 942-8.

3. Levkovits Y, et al. Effects of S-adenosylmethionine augmentation of serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants on cognitive symptoms of major depressive disorder. J. Affect. Disord. 2012; 136(3): 1174-8.


Vitamin D Supplementation Positively Impacts GI Diseases?

It is well known that vitamin D positively influences human health, but data on its impact on the human gut microbiome are lacking. Researchers conducted a pilot study on sixteen healthy volunteers. They were endoscopically examined to access a total of 7 sites to investigate the effects of oral vitamin D3 supplementation on the human mucosa-associated and stool microbiome, as well as CD8(+) T cells. Supplementation decreased relative abundance of Gammaproteobacteria including Pseudomonas spp. and Escherichia/Shigella spp. and increased bacterial richness. While no major changes occurred in the terminal ileum, appendiceal orifice, ascending colon, and sigmoid colon or in stools, the CD8(+) T cell fraction was significantly increased in the terminal ileum. Researchers concluded vitamin D3 modulates the gut microbiome of the upper GI tract, which might explain its positive influence on GI diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or bacterial infections, and local effects of vitamin D demonstrate pronounced regional differences in the response of the GI microbiome to external factors.

Bashir M, et al. Effects of high djoses of vitamin D3 on mucosa-associated gut microbiome vary between regions of the human gastrointestinal tract. Eur J Nutr. 2016;55(4): 1479-89. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-0966-2. Epub 2015 Jul 1.


Heavy Metals and Migraines!

According to a study published in 2012, Migraines affect 12% of the US population. While the number of studies related to migraine pathophysiology have increased in recent years, the exact aetioloty is not well understood. Wishing to compare the levels of trace elements and heavy metals in patients with acute migraine and healthy controls, researchers conducted a prospective study comprising migraine patients and an equal number of healthy controls. International Headache Society classification was used for diagnosing migraine. Serum copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), lead (Pb), iron (Fe), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), manganese (Mn) and magnesium (Mg) levels were measured and assessed. Among the case participants were 22 females and 3 males (mean age 36 yrs). Among controls there were 21 females and 4 males (mean age 42 yrs). Results showed serum levels of Cu, Mg and Zn were significantly lower in patients with acute migraines (AMA) compared to controls, while Cd , Fe, Mn and Pb levels were higher in AMA patients compared to controls. No significant difference was seen for Co between the two groups. Researchers concluded that lower Mg and Zn concentrations may be related to the frequency of migraine attacks, and their administration may reduce the frequency of such attacks. Also, trace elements and heavy metals may have a role in the genesis of considerable oxidative stress in AMA patients.

Gonullu H, et al. The levels of trace elements and heavy metals in patients with acute migraine headache. J Pak Med Asso 65: 694; 2015


Gluten-Free Diet Impacts the Human Microbiome:

A gluten-free diet (GFD) is commonly adopted as an effective treatment for celiac disease, and is often followed to alleviate GI complaints. While we know there is an important link between diet and the gut microbiome, how a switch to a GFD affect the human gut microbiome is largely unknown. Twenty one healthy human volunteers followed a GFD for four weeks. Researchers collected stool samples from each at baseline, four during the GFD period, and four when they returned to their habitual diet (HD). They determined microbiome profiles using 16S rRNA sequencing, then processed the samples for taxonomic and imputed functional composition. They also measured six gut health-related biomarkers in all samples. Inter-individual variation in the gut microbiota remained stable during the short term GFD intervention. A number of taxon-specific differences were seen during the GDF: the most striking shift was seen for the family Veillonellaceae (class Clostridia), which was significantly reduced during the intervention. Seven other taxa also showed significant changes; the majority of them known to play a role in starch metabolism. Stronger differences in pathway activities were seen: 21 predicted pathway activity scores showed significant association to the diet change. Strong relation between the predicted activity of pathways and biomarker measurements were observed. Researchers concluded that CFD changes the gut microbiome composition and alters the activity of microbial pathways.

Bonder MJ, et al. The influence of a short-term gluten-free diet on the human gut microbiome. Genome Med. 2016 Apr 21;8(1):45. doi: 10.1186/s13073-016-0295-y.


Important Info on US Sodium and Potassium Intakes and Their Ratio:

Sodium-to-potassium ratio (Na:K) is shown to be strongly associated with an increased risk of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVD related mortality, more than either Na or K intake alone. Researchers from the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service set out to estimate the Na:K in the diet of US adults. Using data from the 2011-2012 NHANES, the National Cancer Institute method was used to estimate Na and K intakes, Na:K, and the percentage of those with Na:K < 1.0. What they found was that only 12.2% of US adults had a Na:K < 1.0, a ratio that while not necessarily ideal, would certainly be considered preferable to the 1.38 average seen for all adults, and is compatible with the WHO guidelines for reduced risk of mortality. On average, 90% consumed more than the 2300 mg/d recommended daily intake (3600 mg/d average intake) of Na, whereas less than 3% had K intakes above the recommended 4700 mg/d (2800 mg/d average intake). Their report illustrates that only about 10% of US adults have a Na:K consistent with preferred guidelines. In order to improve the risk of CVD related mortality, efforts to reduce sodium intake, with novel strategies to increase potassium intakes are warranted. These dietary modifications offer a cost-effective public health intervention strategy.

Bailey RL, et al. Estimating Sodium and Potassium Intakes and Their Ratio in the American Diet: Data from the 2011-2012 NHANES1-4. The Journal of Nutrition Apr 2016; Vol 146, No. 4; 745-750


Long Term Multivitamin Use Linked to Lower Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in Men!

Researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Karolinska Institute (Stockhilm) and Brinham and Women’s Hospital (Boston) investigated how multivitamin use is associated with the risk of CVD in men who were initially (as baseline) healthy. They studied over 18,500 male physicians (≥40 yrs) from the Physicians’ Health Study 1 cohort who were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. All self-reported lifestyle and clinical factors, plus intake of selected foods and dietary supplements. During a mean follow-up of 12.2 years, there were no significant associations observed among baseline multivitamin uses compared with nonusers for the risk of major CVD events. However, at a duration of 20 years or more, a 44% reduction of risk of major CVD events. There was no evidence of any safety concerns from long-term multivitamin use.

S Rautiainen, et al. Multivitamin Use and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Men. First published April 27, 2016, doi: 10.3945/jn.115.227884 J. Nutr.


Fish Oil for Healthy Community Dwelling Senior Women!

As we age, we typically experience a decrease in muscle mass and metabolic rate and an increase in fat mass, thereby predisposing older adults to chronic disease and functional impairment. The result is an eventual decrease in the quality of life. Researchers from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph in Canada, conducted a study to evaluate the effect of fish oil (FO) supplementation in a cohort of healthy, community-dwelling older females. They evaluated 1) metabolic rate and substrate oxidation at rest and during exercise; 2) resting blood pressure and exercise heart rates; 3) body composition; 4) strength and physical function, and; 5) blood measures of insulin, glucose, CRP and triglycerides. Twenty-four females (66 ± 1 yr) were randomly assigned to receive either 3g/day of EPA and DHA or a placebo for 12 weeks. Exercise measurements were taken before and after 12 weeks and resting metabolic measures were made before and at 6 and 12 weeks. Results showed that FO supplementation significantly increased resting metabolic rate by 14%, energy expenditure during exercise by 10%, and the rate of fat oxidation during rest by 19% and during exercise by 27%. Additionally, FO consumption lowered triglycerides by 29%, increased lean mass by 4%, and functional capacity by 7%. No changes occurred in the placebo group.

Logan SL, Spriet LL. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for 12 Weeks Increases Resting and Exercise Metabolic Rate in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Females. PLoS ONE 10 (12): e0144828. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144828 (Dec 17, 2015)


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