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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Scientists Reveal Secrets Behind Itching

 Scientists Reveal Secrets Behind ItchingNational Institutes of Health scientists have discovered a small molecule released in the spinal cord of a mouse triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as the sensation of itch.The small molecule, called natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb), streams ahead and selectively plugs into a specific nerve cell in the spinal cord, which sends the signal onward through the central nervous system. 
When Nppb or its nerve cell was removed, mice stopped scratching at a broad array of itch-inducing substances. The signal wasn't going through. 
Because the nervous systems of mice and humans are similar, the scientists said a comparable biocircuit for itch likely is present in people. 
If correct, this start switch would provide a natural place to look for unique molecules that can be targeted with drugs to turn off the sensation more efficiently in the millions of people with chronic itch conditions, such eczema and psoriasis. 
The paper also helps to solve a lingering scientific issue. 
"Our work shows that itch, once thought to be a low-level form of pain, is a distinct sensation that is uniquely hardwired into the nervous system with the biochemical equivalent of its own dedicated land line to the brain," Mark Hoon, Ph.D., the senior author on the paper and a scientist at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, said. 
The study is published online in the journal Science.
Source-ANI

 
 

Karnataka govt to invest Rs.90 cr to set up Arogya Soudha to house all offices of health dept

Karnataka government will invest Rs.90 crore to set up an 'Aarogya Soudha' that which will be a dedicated centre housing all departments of the health and family welfare. The centre would be a nine-storey ‘green’ building for which four acres had been identified and its foundation stone was expected to be laid within a week. "This initiative would enhance efficiency of the department and promote teamwork," said the state health and family welfare minister. 
The state government is planning to launch a helpline '104' to enable people to know nearest health facilities, for lodging complaints and grievances and get medical tips in emergencies.
The state government has proposed to introduce biometric systems in all government-run hospitals to ensure that all the staff come on time and do not dodge work during office hours. The move to introduce biometric system of attendance comes in because of the several complaints on absenteeism and late coming in government hospitals. Now the system would monitor the entry and exit of doctors and hospital staff, said the health and family welfare minister Khader.
There is need for both responsible behaviour and discipline in the hospitals and therefore installing technology to track presence of doctors and hospital staff has been opted, he added.
On the infrastructure front, the health minister stated that his government was working towards setting up an equipment monitoring cell so that malfunctioning machines including scanning and X-ray besides those in the operation theatre and the intensive care would be rectified quickly. He pointed out that the intention of the government was to see that medical equipment would be procured from quality manufacturers directly for future use without middlemen.
Further, the health minister also stated that he was keen to see that rural service become mandatory for MBBS and post-graduates in medicine. While there was a law in this regard, the medical graduates get away by paying the prescribed fine and skip rural service, he pointed out.
On the medical education front, the state government had proposed to establish medical colleges in each district for the benefit of the poor meritorious students at a subsidized fee. Karnataka has 36 medical colleges of which seven are government institutions. There were several districts which had no government colleges and private institutions existed by charging exorbitant fees. This was beyond the reach of poor and well-deserving candidates, said the Karnataka medical education minister Dr Sharan Prakash Rudrappa Patil.
In the 12th Five year Plan the Union government had planned to support the States to set-up medical colleges in the backward areas. The proposed scheme envisaged the formation of more MBBS seats. It would in the long run improve the availability of doctors in the state
.
Source:Pharmabiz

Fungi at Your Feet

Fungi at Your FeetCan you ever imagine that our feet have nearly 200 different types of fungi and they have their favorite spots too?Our skin is home to many harmless fungi which can cause infection in case they multiply.  The favorite spots for the fungi are between toes, under toenails and the heel. This information can be of great help in tackling skin conditions like athlete's foot. Nearly three in every 100 people in the UK are affected by fungal nail infections and the most common symptom is that the nail gets thickened and discolored. When scientists studied fungi samples  taken from the ear canal, heel, between the toe nails,  back of the head, behind the ear, forearm, and from many areas on the body, they found that fungal richness varied greatly. The most concentration of fungi was at the heel that was home to nearly 80 types of fungi. 
"The data from our study gives us a baseline about normal individuals that we never had before. The bottom line is your feet are teeming with fungal diversity, so wear your flip flops in locker rooms if you don't want to mix your foot fungi with someone else's fungi."
Knowledge about fungi and ways to control them with improved cleanliness and hygiene can help check the spread of diseases.  
 
 

Reasons to Drink More Water

We all are constantly reminded of how important water is for our bodies, and that's for a good reason. Something that makes up for more than 70% of your body, is definitely important, which is why, we've decided to list down some facts about how important water is. You may probably never have heard of about some of these!
 
Research suggests that around half of the world's population is chronically dehydrated, and by the time you actually feel the need to get a glass of water, your body is probably already dehydrated. Can't think of enough reasons to drink more water? Read on… 


You should drink water to- 
 Prevent cancer- Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, is being used as a treatment in many parts of the world, and has shown amazing benefits for many. Statistics and many researches reveal that staying hydrated can cut down your risk of suffering from bladder cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer too. 

 Be less cranky- Does agitation and ill-at-ease define you? Drinking water may help calm you down, and make you less cranky, studies suggest. 

 Shed some weight- Diet-conscious people have a reason to rejoice. Studies suggest that many times, when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. To drop the pounds, if you feel hungry without a reason, just get a glass of water instead. 
 Prevent headaches- Many a times, that unbearable headache may be the result of dehydration. Try drinking water to relieve the pain. 
 Make your skin glow- This one's pretty obvious. Since skin is the largest organ of the body, good water content helps nourish it and keep it healthy. Drinking more water will make your skin glow from within, and flush out toxins that may be the cause of several skin disorders. 
 Lessen joint pain- Arthritic people have a reason to rejoice. Drinking more water keeps the cartilage soft and moist, thus reducing joint pain to a notable extent. 
 Excel at your workplace- If peer pressure is getting the better of you, try drinking water. Athletic performance is also boosted by rehydrating your body. 
 Flush out the toxins- Detox diets are largely based on water for their functionality. Drinking good amounts of water helps the body get rid of accumulated impurities and toxic wastes, thus boosting better body function, and preventing a good number of major diseases. 


 

Friday, 24 May 2013

It's not your imagination: Memory gets muddled at menopause

Don't doubt it when a woman harried by hot flashes says she's having a hard time remembering things. A new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), helps confirm with objective tests that what these women say about their memory is true.
In the past, some studies showed that hot flashes were related to memory problems, and some didn't. Other studies showed that, even though there was a relationship between hot flashes and what women said about memory problems, objective tests didn't confirm it.
That's why researchers from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University in Chicago gave a battery of eight tests of attention and recall to 68 women age 44 to 62 who had at least 35 hot flashes a week. The women also completed questionnaires about their menopause symptoms, mood, and memory. Women who said they had trouble with memory really did. Also, those who had more trouble with hot flashes did worse on the tests, and women with more hot flashes struggled longer with memory problems than women who had fewer hot flashes. In addition, women who reported more negative emotions did worse on the tests than women who had fewer.
Supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH)/Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the study will be published in the December 2013 print edition of Menopause.
Source:NAMS
 

Youth with type 2 diabetes at much higher risk for heart, kidney disease

 The news about youth and diabetes keeps getting worse. The latest data from the national TODAY diabetes study shows that children who develop Type 2 diabetes are at high risk to develop heart, kidney and eye problems faster and at a higher rate than people who acquire Type 2 diabetes as adults.
"Once these kids have Type 2 diabetes, they seem to be at very high risk for early complications when compared to adults," said Jane Lynch, M.D., professor of pediatric endocrinology in the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The study, led in San Antonio by UT Medicine pediatricians, includes 699 children and young people, with 44 San Antonio participants.
The rise in youth obesity rates has been accompanied by increasing Type 2 diabetes rates in young people. "It's really a public health issue," said Dr. Lynch, who is principal investigator in the San Antonio arm of the study.
There are many unanswered questions and few guidelines for treatment of youth with early onset Type 2 diabetes, she said. Type 2 diabetes should not be confused with Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes.
Of the TODAY participants, more than a third required medication for hypertension or kidney disease 3.9 years after they had joined the study. In the study, published online Thursday afternoon in Diabetes Care, 699 adolescents were randomized into three groups that received metformin, metformin plus rosiglitazone, or metformin plus intensive lifestyle intervention.
While the children on the combined drugs did the best of the three groups, Dr. Lynch said, all did poorly. The researchers were particularly disappointed that the intensive lifestyle intervention group did not do better.
The rate of deterioration of beta cell function in youth was almost four times higher than in adults, researchers found, noting a 20-35 percent decline in beta cell function per year on average, compared to 7-11 percent for adults. Beta cells store and release insulin.
It does not make things easier that these adolescents with early onset T2 diabetes have a tough time managing complex health problems.
"In puberty, everyone becomes somewhat insulin-resistant … and when you're insulin-resistant you're hungry, plus when you have diabetes you're thirsty. This becomes a huge issue when there's the tendency to make poor choices."
One sobering aspect of the study results is that the young patients all had to fit certain health parameters, such as not having high blood pressure or having a treatable level of high blood pressure, and they all received the best possible care, education and medical support.
They had to have a parent or guardian who would also participate in the clinic visits and lifestyle education. Their medicine was paid for and they were brought to the clinic by taxi if that's what it took to get them there.
"That's Cadillac treatment for any kids with diabetes — and we still had these outcomes," Dr. Lynch said.
Despite the interventions in all three treatment arms, the kids kept getting sicker. Boys and girls both developed kidney disease at about the same rates, but obese teenage boys were 81 percent more likely to develop hypertension, Dr. Lynch said. "What's especially challenging for these children is that many also develop fatty liver, which limits our use of the drugs that control hypertension."
The study will continue as researchers monitor the participants' overall outcomes, including cardiac health. "Our goal is to follow them for 10 or 15 years as we figure out better ways to prevent this disease and how to predict complications," Dr. Lynch said.
Source:Diabetes Care

New research shows that potatoes provide one of the best nutritional values per penny

A frequently expressed concern in the ongoing public health debate is the lack of affordability of fresh vegetables, especially those that are nutrient dense. A new study, "Vegetable Cost Metrics Show That Potatoes and Beans Provide Most Nutrients Per Penny," published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce aisle, providing one of the better nutritional values per penny than most other raw vegetables and delivering one of the most affordable source of potassium of the more frequently consumed vegetables, second only to beans.
Dr. Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington used a combination of nutrient profiling methods and national food prices data to create an "affordability index," which was then used to examine the nutrients per unit cost of 98 individual vegetables as well as five vegetable subgroups including dark green, orange/red, starchy, legumes (beans and peas) and "other" vegetables.
The results indicated while dark green vegetables had the highest nutrient density scores, after accounting for cost, starchy vegetables (including potatoes) and beans provided better nutritional value for the money. Potatoes, in particular, provide one of the lowest cost options for four key nutrients including potassium, fiber, vitamin C and magnesium. Among the most frequently consumed vegetables, potatoes and beans were the lowest-cost sources of potassium and fiber—nutrients of concern, as identified by the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.
"The ability to identify affordable, nutrient dense vegetables is important to families focused on stretching their food dollar as well as government policy makers looking to balance nutrition and economics for food programs such as the school lunch program and WIC," said lead researcher Adam Drewnowski, PhD. "And, when it comes to affordable nutrition, it's hard to beat potatoes."
The study was funded by the United States Potato Board and adds to the growing database of nutrition science that supports potatoes in a healthful diet. In addition, one medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, boasts more potassium (620g) than a banana (450g), provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 percent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Source:PLOS ONE

Arjuna Natural Extracts subsidiary, Curegarden offers patented BCM -95 for inflammatory diseases

Curegarden, a subsidiary of Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd (ANEL), has launched a patented ingredient BCM-95, a 100 per cent standardized extract of Turmeric’s most active compound.BCM- 95 has five US patents and one from Japan. The enhanced bioavailability of BCM-95 maximizes its therapeutic effectiveness.
Curegarden has also rolled out its operations in the Bengaluru market with the launch of this botanical BCM-95. Some of its other products are Natural Joint Rescue, Natural Diabetes Defense and Natural Daily Defense. It has plans expand to Mumbai and Chennai markets within the year.
Joint rescue is a combination of vital botanicals; curcumin (BCM-95) and boswellia which provide relief to tender, swollen joints. Diabetes Defense contains a blend of three clinically studied ingredients: – BCM-95, amla and pterocarpus that helps to maintain blood sugar levels.
Daily Defense enhances the body’s natural defense mechanism to develop a strong immune system through the unique patented formula of BCM-95 which offers many times more bio-availability than any other curcumin or turmeric extracts.
While Joint Rescue is priced at Rs.690, the other two products are priced at Rs.790 each.
P J Kunjachan, chairman and managing director, Arjuna Natural Extract Ltd, said, “BCM- 95, is a novel solution for inflammatory diseases. With Curegarden products now in Bengaluru, we will be reaching out to our customers directly. Today, a huge section of the population is affected with diabetes, and India is slated to become the diabetes capital of the world. We hope our product Diabetes Defense will be of use to them since, apart from its efficacy, it is also it is without any negative side effects. With many immune system disorders, our Daily Defense product aims to build the body’s defenses. Joint Rescue is yet again a unique product that provides relief to joints by employing natural botanical extracts.”
According to consumer research, the acceptance of natural products is quite high in Bangalore and people are looking forward to natural remedies to solve many of their ailments, he added.
Dr Benny Antony, director technical, Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd, states, “With proven scientific expertise and technology, Curegarden is all set to explore the wonders of one of the most powerful botanical extract in the world.”
Source:Pharmabiz

Barley and its Benefits

Barley is an ancient grain and belongs to the grass family called Gramineae. It was used as an important bread food during the 16th century by the Egyptians, Greek and Chinese.
This grain is rich in starch and sugar and low in fats and protein. It is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre and selenium. It is also a good source of phosphorous, copper and manganese.
The barley grain is similar in structure to wheat and oats and the appearance usually ranges from black to violet though most commonly the grains resemble maize hues. Barley packs a lot of health benefits – it is a winner when it comes to nutrition along with a pleasant flavor and a chewy consistency. It helps the body to metabolize fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates.
A cup of barley has about 6 grams of fibre of both the soluble and insoluble kinds – the insoluble fibre helps prevents colon cancer and maintains regular bowel movement. The soluble kind lowers blood cholesterol and slows down absorption of sugar and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Barley contains phytochemicals, which help with heart health.
The presence of copper in barley reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; it also maintains flexibility in bones and joints.
Barley is a rich source of niacin, which is effective in reducing blood clots and cardiovascular disease.
Barley is good for childhood asthma. As barley is very easy to digest it is given to convalescents. As it is diuretic, it is useful in bringing down simple fevers and controls diarrhea.
The selenium present in barley preserves elasticity of the skin, along with manganese and it gives the body a feeling of wellbeing.
It is good to have barley for those on weight reduction as barley is low in fat and reduces craving for certain kinds of food, it acts as an appetite suppressant and gives a feeling of fullness.
Barley contains antioxidants, which are important to maintain good health. Specifically, antioxidants work to slow down the rate of oxidative damage by gathering up free radicals that form when body cells use oxygen.
Generally people with gastritis can have barley water as a tonic as it expels harmful toxins from the body. Add a few drops of limejuice and drink it warm for relief from coughscolds and throat inflammations. It prevents urinary tract infections.
Though barley has plenty of vitamins and nutrients, adding barley to a normal diet can be very beneficial, there are certain medical conditions where it should be avoided – irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease may get aggravated with consumption of barley.
In some people the lipid lowering ability is increased with a higher intake of barley, but the increase in soluble fibre caused bloating, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort.
In stores you find two types of barley – pearled barley and hulled barley, the health benefits are available in both but pearl barley has been peeled so fewer nutrients are available as compared to the hulled variety. Barley can be added to food in the powdered form also.

 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

UC IRVINE STUDY MAY POINT TO NEW TREATMENTS FOR LIVER DISEASES


By discovering the new mechanism by which estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis in the liver, UC Irvine endocrinologists have revealed a potential new approach toward treating certain liver diseases.
With this finding, Dr. Ellis Levin and colleagues believe they are changing long-held views in the field. Study results appear in the May 21 issue of the journal Science Signaling.
“The dogma in the steroid receptor field for 50 years has been that only receptors located in the nucleus respond to steroid hormones by regulating genes that produce the developmental, functional and pathological effects of steroid hormones,” said Levin, professor of medicine, biological chemistry and pharmacology, and chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at UC Irvine and the VA Long Beach Healthcare System.
“In our study, we show that an estrogenic receptor compound acting at the cell membrane-based estrogen receptor alpha in the liver of transgenic and wild type mice suppresses all lipid synthesis. This includes cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids.”
Levin said this occurs through AMP kinase signaling, which inhibits the processing of the key transcription factor for many lipid-synthesis pathways genes. This causes the transcription factor to be retained in cytoplasm and prevents lipid synthesis gene expression.
“This action occurs without any participation of the nuclear receptor pool,” he added. “Thus, the membrane ER-alpha can regulate genes that produce a metabolic phenotype entirely unrelated to the nuclear receptor contributing.”
Estrogen plays a role in liver functions, and may be a deterrent to liver cancer, as men get this type of cancer at a rate of four-to-six times more than women and animals models of this cancer show clear suppression by estrogen. The hormone also helps suppress the development of fatty liver, which can lead to liver damage and failure, and inflammatory liver disease that result from chronic hepatitis.
Levin said that he and his colleagues are now testing compounds that target the membrane estrogen receptor in transgenic mice to see the impact for such diseases.
“We’re re-thinking the whole idea of hormone replacement of estrogen by exploring ways to boost estrogen receptor action selectively in a positive way,” he said. “This could include targeting one form of the receptor, or receptors at one location in cells but not all estrogen receptors.”
Last month, Levin was honored with the 2013 Solomon A. Berson Distinguished Researcher Award and Lectureship from the American Physiological Society, Endocrinology Division. The award is in recognition of Levin’s work on estrogen receptors outside the nucleus that mediates important functions of this steroid in breast cancer and the cardiovascular system, and is applicable to many other steroid receptors, including progesterone and androgen receptors in breast and prostate cancer, respectively.
Ali Pedram and Fiona O’Mahony with UC Irvine, Mahnaz Razandi with the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, and  Brian J. Harvey and Harry Harvey with the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, contributed to the study, which was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health (CA-100366) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review Program (ERL). O’Mahony, who is also affiliated with the VA Long Beach Healthcare System was co-funded by Marie Curie Actions, the Irish Higher Education Authority Programme for Third Level Institutions Cycle 4, and the Italian National Research Council.
Source:University of California School of Medicine

Susceptibility to E. Coli Infection may be Increased by High Fiber Diets

 Susceptibility to E. Coli Infection may be Increased by High Fiber DietsA new study has said that consuming diets higher in fiber may increase the risk for Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infection.
The study titled, "Dietary choice affects Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 colonization and disease," is published in the online Early Edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 20. 
Scientists from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) demonstrated that mice fed high-fiber diets (HFD) had elevated levels of intestinal butyrate which -- although a beneficial gut metabolite -- enhanced the gut binding-capacity of Shiga toxin made by a food-borne bacterium called E. coli O157:H7. 
The study, led by Alison O''Brien, Ph.D., chair of USU''s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, showed that the amount of gut bacteria in HFD-fed mice increased while the percent of commensal Escherichia species decreased compared to gut bacteria in mice fed a low-fiber diet (LFD). 
"These changes led to higher E. coli O157:H7 colonization levels, more weight loss, and greater rates of death in HFD-fed than in LFD-fed STEC-infected mice," said O''Brien. Co-authors on the study include Steven D. Zumbrun, Ph.D., Angela Melton-Celsa, Ph.D., Mark A. Smith, VMD, Jeremy J. Gilbreath, Ph.D., and D. Scott Merrell, Ph.D., all from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at USU. 
Although the study showed the connection between high fiber diets and a greater risk for E. coli O157:H7 infection and disease in mice, O''Brien does not advocate changing healthy eating habits. 
"High fiber diets are good for you," she said. "However, fresh produce comes from all over the world, so we need to be extra vigilant in keeping our produce free of microbial contaminants." 
---The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation''s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are educated to become physician-leaders, advanced practice nurses and dentists, public health professionals and scientists for a career of public service in DoD and other parts of the federal government. USU students are primarily active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who have received specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, preventive medicine, the neurosciences (to include TBI and PTSD), disaster response and humanitarian assistance, and acute trauma care. For more information, visit usuhs.edu. 
Source-Newswise

 
 

72 Percent Women Experience Constipation During Pregnancy: Study

 72 Percent Women Experience Constipation During Pregnancy: StudyAccording to a new study, nearly three out of four pregnant women experience constipation, diarrhea or other bowel problems during their pregnancies.
But such bowel disorders only minimally affect a pregnant woman's quality of life, according to the Loyola University Medical Center study. 
The study by senior author Scott Graziano, MD, and Payton Johnson was presented during the 61st Annual Clinical Meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in New Orleans. 
As part of this project, 104 pregnant women were enrolled and completed the first trimester questionnaire; 66 women also completed a survey in the third trimester. 
Seventy-two percent of the first trimester respondents and 61 percent of the third trimester respondents reported one or more bowel disorders, including constipation, diarrhea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. 
The women also filled out a questionnaire that measures the extent to which bowel problems affect quality of life. (For example, the survey asks whether bowel problems make life less enjoyable, limit what a person can wear or eat or make a person feel embarrassed, vulnerable, angry, isolated or depressed.) 
The quality of life survey is scored on a 1 to 100 scale, with 100 representing the least possible impact on quality of life due to bowel problems. The average score was 94.9. 
The only bowel problems that had a significant impact on quality of life were constipation, which reduced the score by 4.4 points out of 100, and bloating, which reduced the score by 4.0 points. 
Graziano said the reason bowel problems have a minimal impact on quality of life is likely because pregnant women have learned to expect such problems during pregnancy and so are better able to tolerate them. 
Bowel problems are due to physiological and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. 
For example, increased progesterone levels affect the smooth muscles in the intestines. 
Consequently, it takes longer for food to move through the intestines, which can cause constipation. 
Vitamins and calcium and iron supplements that women take during pregnancy also can cause constipation, Graziano said.
Source-ANI

 

Music Therapy Reduces Anxiety for ICU Patients

 Music Therapy Reduces Anxiety for ICU PatientsMusic appears to ease anxiety of intensive care unit patients who have been placed on ventilators and also reduce the need for intravenous sedative and analgesic medications, says study."Critically ill mechanically ventilated patients receive intravenous sedative and analgesic medications to reduce anxiety and promote comfort and ventilator synchrony," according to background information in the article. These potent medications are often administered at high doses for prolonged periods and are associated with various adverse effects. "Mechanically ventilated patients have little control over pharmacological interventions to relieve anxiety; dosing and frequency of sedative and analgesic medications are controlled by intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians. Interventions are needed that reduce anxiety, actively involve patients, and minimize the use of sedative medications." The authors note that "listening to preferred, relaxing music has reduced anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients in limited trials. It is not known if music can reduce anxiety throughout the course of ventilatory support, or reduce exposure to sedative medications." 
Linda L. Chlan, Ph.D., R.N., of Ohio State University, Columbus, and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate if a patient-directed music (PDM) intervention could reduce anxiety and sedative exposure in ICU patients receiving mechanical ventilation. The clinical trial included 373 patients from 12 ICUs at 5 hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area receiving acute mechanical ventilatory support for respiratory failure between September 2006 and March 2011. Of the patients included in the study, 86 percent were white, 52 percent were female, and the average age was 59 years. Patients were randomized to self-initiated PDM (n=126) with preferred selections tailored by a music therapist whenever desired while receiving ventilatory support; self-initiated use of noise-canceling headphones (NCH; n = 122); or usual care (n = 125). The main outcomes examined were daily assessments of anxiety (on a 100-mm visual analog scale) and 2 aggregate measures of sedative exposure (intensity and frequency). 
The PDM patients listened to music for an average of 80 minutes/day; the NCH patients wore the noise-abating units for an average of 34.0 minutes/day. Analysis showed that patients in the PDM group had an anxiety score that was 19.5 points lower than patients in the usual care group. 
For an average patient on the fifth study day (the average time patients were enrolled), a usual care patient received 5 doses of any 1 of the 8 study-defined sedative medications. An equivalent PDM patient received 3 doses of sedative medications on the fifth day, a relative reduction of 38 percent. By the end of the fifth day, a PDM patient had a relative reduction of 36 percent in their sedation intensity score and 36.5 percent in their anxiety score. 
PDM did not result in greater reduction in anxiety or sedation intensity compared with NCH. 
"Music provides patients with a comforting and familiar stimulus and the PDM intervention empowers patients in their own anxiety management; it is an inexpensive, easily implemented nonpharmacological intervention that can reduce anxiety, reduce sedative medication exposure, and potentially associated adverse effects. The PDM patients received less frequent and less intense sedative regimens while reporting decreased anxiety levels," the authors write.
(doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5670; Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com) 
Editor''s Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc. 
Editorial: Music Therapy for Reducing Anxiety in Critically Ill Patients 
In an accompanying editorial, Elie Azoulay, M.D., Ph.D., of the Universite Paris-Diderot, Sorbonne Paris-Cite, and colleagues comment on the findings of this study. 
"Reducing anxiety and amount of sedation in mechanically ventilated patients is of the utmost importance, particularly because the result may be a decrease in the post-ICU burden, which weighs heavily on many patients, as well as numerous complications related to sedation. The trial by Chlan et al provides preliminary data that create new possibilities for improving the well-being of ICU patients. Further studies are needed to better understand how music therapy might improve the ICU experience for critically ill patients."
Source-Newswise


 
 

Science Behind the Placebo Effect

Probably the most controversial, yet amazing aspect of medicine is the placebo effect. The idea that somehow, a simple sugar pill, or a drugless 'medicine' can provide pain relief and act as an effective treatment seems silly enough, however, it is actually true.The science behind 
Probably the most controversial, yet amazing aspect of medicine is the placebo effect. The idea that somehow, a simple sugar pill, or a drugless 'medicine' can provide pain relief and act as an effective treatment seems silly enough, however, it is actually true. 
Though numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of the placebo effect, there was little evidence to suggest how it actually worked. Thanks to the new research carried out by Tor Wager, a PhD from the University of Michigan, the actual process behind the entire placebo effect is now scientifically proven, and published in the journal Science 
The study involved around two dozen people, who were told that a pain relieving cream was being tested on them, while only the researcher knew that it was just a placebo alternative. 
To view the brain activity of those subjected to the treatment, MRI scans were done while the subjects were being subjected to a shock treatment after they had applied the 'pain relieving cream.' 
The MRI scans revealed that the prefrontal cortex region of the brain showed an activity which was similar to that when an actual medicine is used. 

Some amazing facts 
Apart from human beings, animals, especially dogs, have also demonstrated positive results when treated with placebo effect. To confirm the existence of placebo effect in animals, a group of epileptic dogs were taken as subjects, some of which were given a regular drug and the others were given a placebo. Dogs showed extremely positive reaction to the placebo as well. 
Over the years, placebo has also been shown to somehow heal physical injuries. 'Fake surgeries', wherein the physicians performed no actual surgery, and just cut the patient open and sewed him back together, have proved to be effective. 
Yet another miracle is that the placebo effect gets more powerful as time passes on. Several tests and studies have demonstrated that when a person is ill, he visits a physician, takes some pills and gets well soon enough, and this continues over the years with the faith of health and recovery building up. 

A few extras 
As the placebo effect is completely dependent on the perception and expectation, there may be various factors that can change the perception level of the patient. 
In case it is brought to the notice of the patient that he is being treated with an ineffective drug or injection, the placebo effect disappears, however, this may not be the case with all patients, as some patients have demonstrated positive results after being subjected to a placebo treatment. 
A study revealed that cool colored pills have proven to be good relaxants and hot colored pills as stimulants. It also depends on the doctor as well; another study concluded that a more kind and enthusiastic doctor increased the placebo effect in the patient from 44-64%. 
The duration of a placebo effect depends on the medical condition that the patient is suffering from-2 and a half year for rheumatoid arthritis, 6 months for angina pectoris and 8 weeks for panic disorder. 

Source:University of Michigan
  

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Osteoarthritis Study Could Make Joint Replacement Obsolete


Johns Hopkins researchers have published findings from an osteoarthritis study that could eventually make joint replacement an obsolete treatment for the debilitating disease.According to Medical News Today, their findings challenge the traditional view of how osteoarthritis develops. Leading the team was Xu Cao, Ph.D., director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, a part of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Study findings appeared in the journal Nature Medicine.Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around 27 million U.S. adults suffer from it. It affects more than a third of those older than 65. The parts of the body the painful disorder most frequently affects are the joints of the hands and spine, the knees, and the hips.According to the Mayo Clinic, the traditional view of the cause of osteoarthritis is deterioration of thecartilage that cushions the ends of bones in affected joints. This deterioration occurs over a period of time, eventually resulting in bone rubbing against bone.Cartilage caps the ends of bone to provide a smooth surface on which a joint can rotate. It also absorbs some of the strain and weight on a joint.The lack of any effective treatment except pain management and joint replacement surgery led the Johns Hopkins team to study the development of osteoarthritis. Healthcare professionals hold that the cause of harm to cartilage and pain to the patient is unstable mechanical pressure on joints.However, the researchers went a step farther. They believe that initial damage to cartilage causes the bone underneath it to start building extra bone. The surplus bone stretches the cartilage above it, causing more deterioration.The study used mice with anterior cruciate ligament tears, events that often lead to osteoarthritis in human knees. The researchers observed the development of large amounts of TGF-beta1, a protein, in the bone of the injured mice. The protein signaled stem cells to build new bone, which caused a strain on cartilage.A computer simulation confirmed the extra bone formation that the researchers believe is the cause of development of osteoarthritis. Scientists were able to inject a drug to inhibit TGF-beta1 directly into the bone under the cartilage without causing any negative effects on the cartilage. They achieved similar results when they generically disrupted development of the extra bone.I have osteoarthritis in both knees. However, orthopedic surgeons are reluctant to eventually operate on either one because I take an immunosuppressant drug that makes me more susceptible than average to infection.The Johns Hopkins team is developing a clinical trial for human patients in the early stages of osteoarthritis. If their efforts are successful, they could make joint replacement surgery for osteoarthritis obsolete and eliminate a lot of pain anticipated from future damage to my knees.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.
Source: journal Nature Medicine

INSIGHT INTO THE DAZZLING IMPACT OF INSULIN IN CELLS

Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes. The breakthrough study, conducted by Sean Humphrey and Professor David James from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, is now published in the early online edition of the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.
First discovered in 1921, the insulin hormone plays a very important role in the body because it helps us lower blood sugar after a meal, by enabling the movement of sugar from the blood into cells. Until now, although scientists have understood the purpose of insulin at a broad level, they have struggled to understand exactly how it achieves its task.
The latest analytical devices called mass spectrometers now provide the tool that has been missing – the means of looking into the vastly complex molecular maze that exists in every single cell in the human body.
These powerful devices have opened up a field known as ‘proteomics’, the study of proteins on a very large scale. Proteins represent the working parts of cells, using energy to perform all essential functions such as muscle contraction, heartbeat or even memory.
Each cell houses multiple copies of between 10,000 and 12,000 protein types, which communicate with each other using various methods, the most common of which is a process known as ‘phosphorylation’. Phosphate molecules are deliberately added to proteins in order to convey information, or else change the protein’s function.
Each of the protein types in a cell has up to 20 potential ‘phosphorylation sites’, regions to which a phosphate molecule can be added. This pushes the total number of possible cell states from one moment to the next into the billions. 
The authors discovered 37,248 phosphorylation sites on 5,705 different proteins, 15% of which changed in response to insulin. 
“Until this study, we did not really appreciate the scale and complexity of insulin regulation,” said lab leader Professor David James.
“When insulin is released from the pancreas after we eat, it travels to cells and initiates a cascade of protein phosphorylation, literally millions of interactions, some instantaneous, some taking minutes or hours. The process is so precise and intricate, and at the same time so monumental in its scope, that it’s truly astounding.” 
Sean Humphrey, who undertook the mass spectrometry work, discovered over 1,500 phosphorylation sites that respond to insulin, and described the process as “eye opening”. 
“When you consider that phosphorylation is only one type of signaling – acetylation and methylation are other forms – you begin to understand the kind of complexity that faces us,” he said.
In addition to cataloguing the phosphoproteome of the fat cell, the authors discovered novel regulation of a protein called ‘SIN1’, key to our understanding of the chain of events that occurs during insulin signaling. They have also described the mechanisms by which SIN1 influences other influential proteins within the cell, in particular one known as Akt.
“Sean’s study has shed new light on how one of the most important regulators in the cell – a protein called Akt  – is itself regulated,” said Professor James. 
“Akt not only plays a role in diabetes, but also in cancer and other diseases, and the discovery of SIN1 phosphorylation gives us useful new insights into how Akt actually functions in a cell.”

“These large scale approaches are providing us with new levels of understanding of human biology that we would never have anticipated. Without the mass spectrometer, we could not have discovered the importance of SIN1 phosphorylation in the overall insulin signaling process.” 
“It’s an important lesson about the usefulness of this technology in allowing us to discover new things about the cell and how it regulates itself.”
Source:Cell Metabolism

Calcium supplements linked to longer lifespans in women


Calcium-rich diet and supplements provide similar benefits

Taking a calcium supplement of up to 1,000 mg per day can help women live longer, according to a study whose lead author was Lisa Langsetmo, a Ph.D. Research Associate at McGill University, and whose senior author was Prof. David Goltzman, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine and researcher in the Musculoskeletal Disorders axis at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).Their findings are published in theJournal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).
Calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health, is commonly found in dairy products as well as vitamins. Although calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health, past studies have linked calcium supplements to heart disease risk. The researchers, located at universities across the country, analyzed data from the large-scale Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) seeking to determine whether calcium and vitamin D intake were associated with overall increased risk of death.
"We found that daily use of calcium supplements in women was associated with a lower risk of death, irrespective of cause," said the study's lead author, Prof. Goltzman, Director, Calcium Research Laboratory at McGill. "The benefit was seen for women who took doses of up to 1,000 mg per day, regardless of whether the supplement contained vitamin D."
The longitudinal study of participants living in or near 9 cities across Canada monitored the health of 9,033 Canadians between 1995 and 2007. During that period, 1,160 participants died. Although the data showed women who took calcium supplements had a lower mortality risk, there was no statistical benefit for men. The study found no conclusive evidence that vitamin D had an impact on mortality.
"Higher amounts of calcium were potentially linked to longer lifespans in women, regardless of the source of the calcium," says Goltzman. "In other words, the same benefits were seen when the calcium came from dairy foods, non-dairy foods or supplements."
Source:McGill University 

Micronutrient Enriched Wheat Steamed Bread is Beneficial for Diabetes Patients

Steamed bread made from a new purple grain wheat variety developed by Chinese scientists may help lower blood sugar, according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal.Diabetes is undoubtedly one of the most challenging health problems in the 21st century. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 366 million people globally have diabetes with China leading the table with 90 million diabetics and closely followed by India with 61.3 million diabetics. 
Since diabetes is highly correlated with the life style and diet, it can be prevented by controlling the plasma glucose levels, that is, blood sugar. Multiple studies show that consumption of low glycemic index (GI) foods could have a significant impact on the preventing and controlling diabetes. 
A slice (28g) of whole wheat bread contains 69 calories and although it is one of the most consumed food staples globally and is a 'moderately allowed' food in diabetic menu plan, this cereal comes with a glycemic index of 71 which is relatively high. 
In Northern China, steamed bread is a popular daily food but with GI value of 88.1-98.3, the glycemic response of steamed wheat bread is even higher than the whole wheat bread. 
Researchers, Su-Que Lan and colleagues, at Institute of Cereal and Oil Crops, Hebei Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, China, developed a purple-grain wheat variety named Jizi439, with enriched micro-nutrition especially organic chromium considered effective in attenuating insulin resistance and lowering plasma cholesterol levels, and with high amylase known to lower glucose responses, to see if it is the suitable variety for making low GI steam bread. 
Organic chromium is one of the essential micro-elements for human body that plays a very important role in maintaining and regulating proper levels of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. It also helps decrease requirement for insulin and helps lower plasma cholesterol levels. Inorganic chromium does not show these functions so chromium has to be converted to organic form to get its benefits. 
The researchers assessed the effect of wheat variety Jizi439 on postprandial plasma glucose in different subjects comparing with buckwheat, which is relatively lower in GI value. In total, twenty participants (10 healthy subjects and 10 type 2 diabetic subjects) were randomly recruited for the study. The 10 healthy subjects were given Jizi439 variety or another steamed purple grain wheat variety or a mixture of different white grain wheat varieties. The diet of 10 diabetic subjects included only the Jizi439 wheat variety. 
The results showed that - 
- In healthy subjects, consumption of Jizi439 steamed wheat bread resulted in the least increase in plasma glucose and the GI was significantly lower than the other two varieties. 
- In diabetic subjects, the average of postprandial 2h plasma glucose increment of Jizi439 was 2.46mmol/L which was significantly lower than that of the mixture of white wheat but was not significantly different from buckwheat. 
There is sufficient evidence that buckwheat effectively reduces diabetes symptoms. Earlier studies have shown that a single dose of buckwheat seed extract lowered plasma glucose levels by 12 to 19 percent within 90 minutes and 120 minutes after administration in laboratory animals. 'In present study, postprandial 2h plasma glucose level of Jizi439 was lower than that of buckwheat. Therefore, Jizi439 should be also beneficial to diabetes,' co-relate the researchers. 
The researchers thus concluded that steam bread made from Jizi439 wheat variety would be an ideal food for preventing and treatment of diabetes. 
Reference:   

www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-12-64.pdf 


 


 

Research: The Compound in the Mediterranean Diet That Makes Cancer Cells 'Mortal'

A compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death, suggests new research. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer cells into normal cells that die as scheduled.One way that cancer cells thrive is by inhibiting a process that would cause them to die on a regular cycle that is subject to strict programming. This study in cells, led by Ohio State University researchers, found that a compound in certain plant-based foods, called apigenin, could stop breast cancer cells from inhibiting their own death. 
Much of what is known about the health benefits of nutrients is based on epidemiological studies that show strong positive relationships between eating specific foods and better health outcomes, especially reduced heart disease. But how the actual molecules within these healthful foods work in the body is still a mystery in many cases, and particularly with foods linked to lower risk for cancer. Parsley, celery and chamomile tea are the most common sources of apigenin, but it is found in many fruits and vegetables. 
The researchers also showed in this work that apigenin binds with an estimated 160 proteins in the human body, suggesting that other nutrients linked to health benefits - called "nutraceuticals" - might have similar far-reaching effects. In contrast, most pharmaceutical drugs target a single molecule. 
"We know we need to eat healthfully, but in most cases we don't know the actual mechanistic reasons for why we need to do that," said Andrea Doseff, associate professor of internal medicine and molecular genetics at Ohio State and a co-lead author of the study. "We see here that the beneficial effect on health is attributed to this dietary nutrient affecting many proteins. In its relationship with a set of specific proteins, apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy." 
Doseff oversaw this work with co-lead author Erich Grotewold, professor of molecular genetics and director of Ohio State's Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS). The two collaborate on studying the genomics of apigenin and other flavonoids, a family of plant compounds that are believed to prevent disease. 
The research appears this week in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Though finding that apigenin can influence cancer cell behavior was an important outcome of the work, Grotewold and Doseff point to their new biomedical research technique as a transformative contribution to nutraceutical research. 
They likened the technique to "fishing" for the human proteins in cells that interact with small molecules available in the diet. 
"You can imagine all the potentially affected proteins as tiny fishes in a big bowl. We introduce this molecule to the bowl and effectively lure only the truly affected proteins based on structural characteristics that form an attraction," Doseff said. "We know this is a real partnership because we can see that the proteins and apigenin bind to each other." 
Through additional experimentation, the team established that apigenin had relationships with proteins that have three specific functions. Among the most important was a protein called hnRNPA2. 
This protein influences the activity of messenger RNA, or mRNA, which contains the instructions needed to produce a specific protein. The production of mRNA results from the splicing, or modification, of RNA that occurs as part of gene activation. The nature of the splice ultimately influences which protein instructions the mRNA contains. 
Doseff noted that abnormal splicing is the culprit in an estimated 80 percent of all cancers. In cancer cells, two types of splicing occur when only one would take place in a normal cell - a trick on the cancer cells' part to keep them alive and reproducing. 
In this study, the researchers observed that apigenin's connection to the hnRNPA2 protein restored this single-splice characteristic to breast cancer cells, suggesting that when splicing is normal, cells die in a programmed way, or become more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs. 
"So by applying this nutrient, we can activate that killing machinery. The nutrient eliminated the splicing form that inhibited cell death," said Doseff, also an investigator in Ohio State's Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute. "Thus, this suggests that when we eat healthfully, we are actually promoting more normal splice forms inside the cells in our bodies." 
The beneficial effects of nutraceuticals are not limited to cancer, as the investigators previously showed that apigenin has anti-inflammatory activities. 
The scientists noted that with its multiple cellular targets, apigenin potentially offers a variety of additional benefits that may even occur over time. "The nutrient is targeting many players, and by doing that, you get an overall synergy of the effect," Grotewold explained. 
Doseff is leading a study in mice, testing whether food modified to contain proper doses of this nutrient can change splicing forms in the animals' cells and produce an anti-cancer effect.
 Source:National Academy of Sciences

 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

AYUSH DARPAN JAN-JUN 2012 ISSUE

ayush darpan jan jun 2012 pdf free ebook download from ayushdarpan.org

Eating insects could help fight obesity, U.N. says


The thought of eating beetles, caterpillars and ants may give you the creeps, but the authors of a U.N. report published on Monday said the health benefits of consuming nutritious insects could help fight obesity.
More than 1,900 species of insects are eaten around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia, but people in the West generally turn their noses up at the likes of grasshoppers, termites and other crunchy fare.
The authors of the study by the Forestry Department, part of theU.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said many insects contained the same amount of protein and minerals as meat and more healthy fats doctors recommend in balanced diets.
"In the West we have a cultural bias, and think that because insects come from developing countries, they cannot be good," said scientist Arnold van Huis from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, one of the authors of the report.
Eva Muller of the FAO said restaurants in Europe were starting to offer insect-based dishes, presenting them to diners as exotic delicacies.
Danish restaurant Noma, for example, crowned the world's best for three years running in one poll, is renowned for ingredients including ants and fermented grasshoppers.
As well as helping in the costly battle against obesity, which the World Health Organization estimates has nearly doubled since 1980 and affects around 500 million people, the report said insect farming was likely to be less land-dependent than traditional livestock and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
It would also provide business and export opportunities for poor people in developing countries, especially women, who are often responsible for collecting insects in rural communities.
Van Huis said barriers to enjoying dishes such as bee larvae yoghurt were psychological - in a blind test carried out by his team, nine out of 10 people preferred meatballs made from roughly half meat and half mealworms to those made from meat.
Source:Reuters

Research examines new methods for managing digestive health


 
Research presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) explores new methods for managing digestive health through diet and lifestyle.

Individuals suffering from Crohn's disease are often plagued by reduced muscle strength, fatigue and poor quality of life. These symptoms can remain even when patients are in remission. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study found for the first time that vitamin D supplementation corresponded to significant relief of these symptoms.
"Our findings may have significant implications for these patients," said Tara Raftery, research dietician and PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. "These findings, to our knowledge, are the first to suggest potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation on muscle strength with corresponding benefits for fatigue and quality of life in Crohn's disease. These findings, however, need to be confirmed in larger studies."
The study found that after three months of taking 2000 IU of vitamin D per day, patients' muscle strength, measured by hand-grip, was significantly higher in both dominant and non-dominant hands compared to those taking placebo. Patients also reported significantly less general, physical and mental fatigue and a higher quality of life when levels of vitamin D were 75 nano mole per liter or more.
Diet swap provides clue to level of colorectal cancer risk
Building on growing knowledge about the human microbiome, research from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Pittsburgh, PA; Wageningen University, the Netherlands; and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, features new data on microbiota and colorectal cancer risk. Researchers found a dramatic and rapid shift in gut microbiota after switching the diet in healthy subjects from a traditional Western diet to a Zulu African diet and vice-versa. Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the study's results show changes in gut microbiota that might explain levels of colorectal cancer risk.
"African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the U.S. The reasons for this are not yet understood," said Franck Carbonero, postdoctoral research associate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Our findings offer insight into this disparity and pave the way for new research."
During the study, researchers fed 20 Zulu Africans 600 grams of meat per day for two weeks and fed 20 African Americans in Pittsburgh a traditional Zulu diet comprised primarily of a corn-based porridge called putu. Comparing stool samples before and after the diet exchange in each case, researchers found dramatic changes in colonic microbiota.
"Our results show that the human colonic microbiota is shaped by diet in a very dynamic manner," said Rex Gaskins, PhD, professor of Immunobiology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Not only that, we observed alterations in the balance of beneficial and detrimental microbial groups, which may explain, in part, the increase in colorectal cancer risk that is conferred by a Western diet."
New needleless acupuncture therapy decreases symptoms of indigestion
A study from Texas Tech University, El Paso, and the University of Mississippi, Oxford, holds promising results for diabetic patients suffering from indigestion symptoms like nausea, vomiting, bloating and heartburn. The study tested a new method of therapy using a custom-made wireless device to stimulate acupuncture points with electrical waves on the surface of the skin rather than needles.
"Treatment options for this patient group are severely limited," said Richard McCallum, MD, professor and founding chair of the division of gastroenterology, department of medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. "This is a novel approach to symptom relief that overcomes the shortcomings of other therapies."
Because of the limited pharmacological treatment options available, many patients build up a tolerance to prescribed medicine. Additionally, traditional acupuncture requires patients to make repeat appointments and a fear of needles may make it undesirable for many patients. The wireless, needleless device tested in the study was designed by Jiande Chen, PhD, professor at the University of Texas' Medical Branch at Galveston, and allows clinicians to tailor the frequency and amplitude of the electrical waves used to stimulate acupuncture points.
Funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, patients were instructed to spend 240 minutes each day using the device on designated spots on the body. They kept a detailed diary tracking specific gastroparesis symptoms and the number of heartburn episodes per day.
Dr. McCallum worked with fellow Texas Tech professor Irene Sarosiek, MD, senior author of this project, to analyze results of a four-week period of use of the device. Compared to the placebo group, the device significantly improved five out of nine gastroparesis symptoms — vomiting was reduced by 39 percent, nausea by 30 percent and bloating by 21 percent. The number of heartburn episodes decreased significantly when patients utilized active stimulation.
"These exciting initial results have great potential for patients," Dr. McCallum said. "With the customizable features of the device, we can explore fine-tuning the therapy to directly target specific symptoms."
Source:Digestive Disease Week 

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