Curcumin May Alleviate PTSD Symptoms

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Curcumin, a compound derived from the spice turmeric, has been studied extensively for its ability to support brain health. Previous studies indicate a potential to combat depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.

New research suggests that it may aid in the treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), a debilitating condition that affects not only veterans, but millions of people around the world.

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Study: Curcumin Blocks the Retrieval of Traumatizing Memories

Researchers from New York and New Haven conducted a series of experiments on rats. The purpose was to examine the effects of curcumin on PTSD. Rats were split into one of two groups: a curcumin-enriched diet and a regular diet.

The rats were conditioned to fear a sound with electric shocks and additional tests were performed to determine their ability to retrieve fearful memories. Later their brains were removed for analysis.

It was found that the rats eating a curcumin-enriched diet had a harder time storing fear-related memories. In addition, the curcumin-fed rats were able to forget fearful memories.1

Patients with PTSD relive painful memories. The goal of treatment is to alleviate the fear related to their trauma.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how the curcumin blocks the retrieval of traumatizing memories, but it may have to do with its ability to ease inflammation of the brain. Inflammation is thought to play a role in PTSD.2

Due to the limited absorption of curcumin, the rats were given 900 mg of curcumin per kg of body weight every day. In the average person, that translates to about 10.2 grams of curcumin per day.

Can Humans Expect the Same Benefits?

To date, no human studies have examined the effects of curcumin on PTSD. However, curcumin may benefit the underlying symptoms that accompany this condition, such as depression and anxiety.

Previous research indicates curcumin may treat depression as effectively as Prozac3, an antidepressant drug that is currently used to treat PTSD patients.

References:

  1. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Nov 28. 
  2. BMC Psychiatry. 2013; 13: 40. 
  3. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85

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The Health Benefits of Citrus


Citrus fruit is a well-established staple of the American diet. Even among those who tend to avoid fruits and vegetables, orange juice is often a favorite.

As it turns out, Citrus fruit, aside from being delicious, is a bountiful source of important nutrients.

Although vitamin C is the first that comes to mind, citrus, which includes oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and, surprisingly, tomatoes, is also an excellent source of bioflavonoids.

While vitamin C is concentrated in the fruit's interior, the best source of citrus bioflavonoids is in the peel and the whitish covering that adheres to the fruits' sections.

Bioflavonoids Make Citrus Healthy

The word flavonoid derives from the Latin word flavus, which means yellow. These numerous plant compounds are classified by their chemical structure.

Citrus fruits contain a rich assortment of disease-fighting flavonoids. They include diosmin, naringin, naringenin, diosmetin, tangeretin, quercetin, quercitrin, rutin, hesperidin, hesperetin, narirutin, neohesperidin and nobiletin.

Bioflavonoids in Citrus Enhance Blood Vessel Strength

Citrus bioflavonoids enhance the integrity of blood vessels. In fact, bioflavonoids were once labeled vitamin P for "permeability" (of the capillaries); however, this name has fallen out of use.1

For the aforementioned reason, bioflavonoids have been suggested for such conditions as dilated capillaries, varicose veins, hemorrhoids,2 bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and lymphedema.

Nobiletin Fights Arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease

The results of research indicate that citrus bioflavonoids — in particular nobiletin — could benefit people with arthritis.

In an experiment using rabbit chondrocytes (cartilage cells), nobiletin, as well as five other flavonoids, inhibited the production of inflammatory compounds, suggesting an ability to help protect the joints.3

Nobiletin has also shown promise for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.4 When administered to inflicted mice, dopamine release in the brain was enhanced and motor problems improved.

Hesperidin and Hesperetin Support Brain Health

Research shows hesperidin and hesperetin scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation,5 which could benefit a variety of conditions. The bioflavonoid hesperidin has been shown to prevent cognitive impairment in mice whose brains were injected with a drug called streptozotocin.

Animals pretreated with hesperidin demonstrated improved memory and a reduction in oxidative stress, effects which could ultimately prove useful in the treatments of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.6

Supplement with Bioflavonoids!

Citrus bioflavonoids are also available in supplement form. Because of their occurrence in citrus fruit which also provides vitamin C, citrus bioflavonoids are often added to vitamin C capsules, tablets, and powder.

References:

  1. Nutrients. Nov 2013; 5(11): 4284–4304. 
  2. Angiology. 1994 Jun;45(6 Pt 2):566-73. 
  3. J Rheumatol. 2000 Jan;27(1):20-5. 
  4. Neuroscience. 2014 Feb 14;259:126-41. 
  5. Phytother Res. 2014 Nov 13. 
  6. J Neurol Sci. 2014 Nov 6.

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The Healthy Burn of Chili Peppers


That exhilarating (or excruciating) hot sensation you get when eating chili peppers? That's due to their capsaicin content - and it's definitely a "healthy burn".

Chilies are a popular addition to Mexican, Indian, and other international cuisines. The most common reason they’re added to foods is the sensation of heat they impart.

This sensation is due to irritation to the tongue and lining of the mouth, which can range from a pleasant sensation of warmth to extreme pain, as anyone who has doused their food with an unknown hot sauce can attest to.

Peppers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, from the innocuous bell pepper to the notorious jalapeño. Jalapeños, while indeed hot, are not the hottest.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that title has been bestowed on a chili known as the Carolina Reaper.

Chile peppers are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fiber, however, their most notable active ingredient is capsaicin, the healthy compound that's responsible for their heat.

Capsaicin Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Capsaicin has been the subject of many scientific inquiries over the past decade or so, and for good reason. In cultured human pancreatic carcinoma cells, scientists reported the anticancer effect of capsaicin.

In mice that received implanted human prostate cancer tumors, capsaicin resulted in a decrease in the tumor size and weight.2

Capsaicin Aids Weight Loss

Chilies ability to aid in weight loss has been the focus of recent research.

An article published in 2010 revealed an 8% decrease in body weight among rats on a high-fat diet given capsaicin.3 In the study, capsaicin increased the breakdown of fat and increased metabolism.

Capsaicin Alleviates Pain

Capsaicin is also showing promise as a topical agent for arthritis or other pain. Applied directly to the skin, the compound has the ability to be absorbed for rapid relief.

A study published in 2013 showed that capsaicin improved sleep, fatigue, depression, and quality of life in people with post-herpetic neuralgia or HIV-neuropathy.4

A Word of Caution!

Be careful not to use around your eyes or to touch your eyes after applying! Capsaicin and chili peppers can be an exteme irritant.

References:

  1. Apoptosis. 2008 Dec;13(12):1465-78. 
  2. Cancer Res. 2006 Mar 15;66(6):3222-9. 
  3. J Proteome Res. 2010 Jun 4;9(6):2977-87. 
  4. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Feb 28;2:CD007393.

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5 Reasons You’re Losing Your Hair

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Losing your hair? You’re not alone.

For millions of Americans, hair loss can be puzzling and even frightening. Luckily, many cases are treatable.

Below, we’ll go over some of the most common causes of hair loss as well as treatments that you can try at home.

Medical Reasons for Hair Loss

The most common cause of hair loss is a genetic condition called male-pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia.

Different conditions such as menopause, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), lupus, and even psoriasis may cause hair loss. When in doubt, check with a dermatologist.

Medications Can Cause Hair Loss

Unfortunately, certain prescription medications may come with a host of side effects and hair loss may be one of them. The following are a list of medications associated with hair loss:

  • Birth control pills 
  • Anti-ulcer drugs 
  • Anti-depressants 
  • Anti-convulsants 
  • Beta-blockers (a form of blood pressure drug).

Are You Mistreating Your Hair?

If you’re noticing more hair loss than usual, take a break from your usual hair-care routine and notice if it makes a difference.

Using tight pony tails, combing your hair when wet, applying harsh styling products, and excessive heat are potential culprits.

Blow-drying your hair, relaxing, perming, coloring, and flat ironing can eventually take a toll. Opt for natural methods of hair care.

Air drying is much healthier on your hair. Also, buy shampoos without sulfates which can damage the hair’s cuticles.

Your Hormones and Hair Loss

Hair loss can be devastating, especially for a guy in his 20s. But there’s a reason for it.

Male pattern baldness (when hair is lost in the front part of the head, causing an M shape) is caused by DHT, a potent form of testosterone. Research shows saw palmetto, a palm fruit extract, can help.1

Women can also suffer from hormone-related hair loss. DHT and prolactin, a hormone that increases right after child birth, are common offenders.

Poor Nutrition Can Lead to Hair Loss

Your hair is a reflection of your health. If you’re obtaining the right nutrients in your diet, chances are your hair will be healthy and strong.

Biotin, zinc, and iron are needed for a healthy head of hair. In addition, obtaining enough protein is also suggested. Amino acids such as lysine are important for hair growth.

Blood Tests Help Uncover the Cause

There are certain blood tests that may help to pinpoint the cause of your hair-related problems. Be familiar with these. Your doctor may be able to order them for you.

Men and women:

  • Chemistry panel/CBC profile — checks for iron deficiency and general health 
  • Thyroid Panel — screens for over or under-active thyroid 
  • ANA (antinuclear antibody) — tests for autoimmune disorders such as lupus
For women only:

  • Prolactin — excess levels may cause hair loss 
  • DHEA and testosterone — increased levels are associated with PCOS

References

  1. J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Apr;8(2):143-52. 

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The Benefits of Pine Bark Extract


The pine tree is celebrated during the darkness of winter for its seemingly death-defying ability to remain green year-round.

Its bark and needles have been used by indigenous people for centuries for nutrition and general wellness.

As a matter of fact, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine has been found to contain compounds that have year-round life-enhancing benefits. Let's explore them.

Pine Bark Extract Contains Disease-Fighting Proanthocyanidins

Proanthocyanidins derived from pine bark have been associated with a variety of benefits, including DNA protection, reduction of inflammation, decreased oxidative stress and reduced glycation. 1-5 

Aside from these broad benefits, pine bark extract has been found to help a number of conditions.

Pine Bark Extract Supports Skin Health

Recent research has revealed an ability for pine bark extract to reduce the length and severity of the common cold.6 The extract has also been shown to decrease symptoms associated with psoriasis.7

In addition to helping with psoriasis, pine bark extract benefits the skin of healthy people, too. Not only does it protect collagen from degrading, it reduces the damage caused by ultraviolet light8—the primary cause of skin aging.

Pine bark extract's skin benefits don't end there. It has also shown to improve skin elasticity,9,10 roughness, hydration,10 and hyperpigmentation.11

Pine Bark Extract Improves Circulation and Menopause

In studies involving people with chronic venous insufficiency, pine bark extract reduced leg and ankle swelling and improved symptoms.12,13

Its ability to maintain capillary health is behind its use by many women to combat "spider veins": small dilated red or violet capillaries. Women have also benefited from the use of pine bark extract during menopause14 

The administration of 100 milligrams over an eight-week period reduced fatigue, sleep issues, memory impairment, dizziness, irritability, and depression, as well as such symptoms as headache, breast tenderness, and itching.

Pine Bark Extract Benefits Diabetes and Arthritis

Pine bark extract shows promise for other chronic diseases as well.

A trial of diabetics who received a daily dose of 125 milligrams experienced an average reduction of almost 24 mg/dL in fasting blood sugar levels. Hemoglobin A1c, which assesses long-term glucose control, and LDL cholesterol were also significantly reduced.5

And in participants with arthritis, 100 milligrams of pine bark extract daily resulted in a 56% reduction in symptoms, and an increase in walking distance compared to the placebo group.15

The Bottom Line

The benefits for pine bark extract extend well beyond those discussed in this brief summary.

And while you may not relish the thought of consuming pine bark (unless you're a die-hard survivalist), anyone can take pine bark extract as a supplement to help prevent a number of conditions and promote better health.

References:

  1. Fitoterapia. 2010 Oct;81(7):724-36.
  2. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 1998 Feb;24(2):139-44.
  3. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Feb 15;52(4):765-74.
  4. Redox Rep. 2008;13(6):271-6.
  5. Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):315-20.
  6. Panminerva Med. 2014 Dec;56(4):301-8.
  7. Panminerva Med. 2014 Mar;56(1):41-8.
  8. Photochem Photobiol2004 Feb;79(2):193-8.
  9. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2004 Jan;3(1):26-34.
  10. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2012;25(2):86-92.
  11. Phytother Res.2002 Sep;16(6):567-71.
  12. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost.2006 Apr;12(2):205-12.
  13. Angiology.2006 Oct-Nov;57(5):569-76.
  14. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):65-70.
  15. Phytother Res.2008 Apr;22(4):518-23

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