Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
Other names: lipoic acid, thioctic acid, ALA
Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. It's needed by the body to produce the energy for our body's normal functions. Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy.
Alpha lipoic acid is also an antioxidant, a substance that neutralizes potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. What makes alpha lipoic acid unique is that it functions in water and fat, unlike the more common antioxidants vitamins C and E, and it appears to be able to recycle antioxidants such as vitamin C and glutathione after they have been used up. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps the body eliminate potentially harmful substances. Alpha lipoic acid increases the formation of glutathione.
Alpha lipoic acid is made by the body and can be found in very small amounts in foods such as spinach, broccoli, peas, Brewer's yeast, brussel sprouts, rice bran, and organ meats. Alpha lipoic acid supplements are available in capsule form at health food stores, some drugstores, and online. For maximum absorption, the supplements should be taken on an empty stomach.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy or by conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, alcoholism, shingles, thyroid disease, and kidney failure. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, weakness, and itching.
Alpha lipoic acid is thought to work as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage.
Preliminary studies suggest that alpha lipoic acid may help. In one of the largest studies on the use of alpha lipoic acid, 181 people took 600 mg, 1200 mg or 1800 mg of alpha lipoic acid a day or a placebo. After 5 weeks, alpha lipoic acid improved symptoms. The dose that was best tolerated while still providing benefit was 600 mg once daily.
Alpha lipoic acid can cross the blood-brain barrier, a wall of tiny vessels and structural cells, and pass easily into the brain. It is thought to protect brain and nerve tissue by preventing free radical damage.
3) Age-Related Conditions
As an antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid can neutralize free radicals which can damage cells. Free radical damage is thought to contribute to aging and chronic illness.
Alpha lipoic acid has also been suggested for cataracts, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, burning mouth syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and stroke, but large, well-designed studies are needed to see if it's effective for these conditions.
Side effects of alpha lipoic acid may include headache, tingling or a "pins and needles" sensation, skin rash, or muscle cramps.
There have been a few reports in Japan of a rare condition called insulin autoimmune syndrome in people using alpha lipoic acid. The condition causes hypoglycemia and antibodies directed against the body's own insulin without previous insulin therapy.
The safety of alpha lipoic acid in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease is unknown.
Alpha lipoic acid may improve blood sugar control, so people with diabetes who are taking medication to lower blood sugar, such as metformin (Glucophage), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase), should only take alpha lipoic acid under the supervision of a qualified health professional and have their blood sugar levels carefully monitored.
Animal studies indicate that alpha lipoic acid may alter thyroid hormone levels, so it could theoretically have the same effect in humans. People taking thyroid medications such as levothyroxine should be monitored by their healthcare provider.
Holmquist L, Stuchbury G, Berbaum K, Muscat S, Young S, Hager K, Engel J, Münch G. Lipoic acid as a novel treatment for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 113.1 (2007): 154-164.
Takeuchi Y, Miyamoto T, Kakizawa T, Shigematsu S, Hashizume K. Insulin Autoimmune Syndrome possibly caused by alpha lipoic acid. Intern Med. 46.5 (2007): 237-239.
Ziegler D, Ametov A, Barinov A, Dyck PJ, Gurieva I, Low PA, Munzel U, Yakhno N, Raz I, Novosadova M, Maus J, Samigullin R. Oral treatment with alpha-lipoic acid improves symptomatic diabetic polyneuropathy: the SYDNEY 2 trial. Diabetes Care. 19.11 (2006): 2365-2370.
By Cathy Wong, About.com Guide
Updated February 01, 2008
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
Source of Photograph.....
What is Althaea?
Other names: marshmallow, althaea officinalis, mallards, sweet weed, wymote, mortification root
Althaea is a plant used in herbal medicine. The root is white and tastes slightly sweet. In fact, it's also called marshmallow, because it was an ingredient in the original marshmallow recipe.
Althaea can be found online or at health food stores in dried loose form.
Why People Use Althaea
Althaea root contains a high percent of mucilage, a substance that swells and becomes gel-like when mixed with water. Once it has swelled, mucilage is thought to soothe irritation.
Althaea tea is recommended by some alternative practitioners for sore throat and coughing. The effectiveness of this herbal remedy, however, hasn't been studied. Althaea can also be found at the natural health food store in herbal cough syrups.
Some alternative practitioners suggest althaea for these conditions, although it hasn't been tested. The mucilage in althaea is believed to coat the lining of the stomach and intestines and reduce inflammation.
Some people use althaea to soothe irritated skin. Powdered althaea root is mixed with enough warm water to make a paste and applied to the affected area. A layer of gauze or cloth is placed over the area. If any itching or irritation occurs, it is rinsed immediately. It's usually left on for up to 30 minutes and then the cloth is removed and the area rinsed thoroughly.
To make althaea tea, add one to two tablespoons dried althaea root to one cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep overnight and strain out the solids. A typical recommendation is one cup per day.
To shorten the steeping time, powdered marshmallow root may be used, which has been ground to a fine powder and doesn't need to be steeped for as long. It can be made following the same instructions, but steeped for at least one hour before straining.
Theoretically, althaea shouldn't be taken within two hours of taking prescription drugs. Because althaea coats the digestive tract, it may interfere with their absorption.
Some people are allergic to althaea and shouldn't take it.
Althaea may affect blood sugar levels, so it should not be used by people with diabetes or hypoglycemia unless under the supervision of a health practitioner.
By Cathy Wong, About.com Guide
Updated May 28, 2012
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
Acai, a palm tree native to Central and South America, produces reddish-purple berries that are similar to blueberries and cranberries. Bearing a rich, chocolate-like flavor, acai berries have recently popped up in scads of nutritional supplements and juices.
In recent years, supplement manufacturers have begun marketing acai as a top source of antioxidants (substances that help protect cells from free radical damage). In fact, 53 new acai-containing products were introduced in the United States in 2008. That same year, sales of products with acai as the main ingredient surpassed $106 million.
Acai proponents claim that the "superfruit" offers 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and delivers a remarkable synergy of amino acids, essential fatty acids, and fiber. According to acai advocates, the fruit's nutritional profile qualifies acai as a powerful defense against heart disease, cancer, digestive problems, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. Some supplement manufacturers also suggest that acai promotes weight loss.
Although research has proven that acai is indeed high in antioxidants, very few studies have tested the fruit's effects on humans. Among those human-based studies is a 2008 trial including only 12 people; the key finding was that acai can in fact be absorbed by the human body when consumed as juice or pulp.
In test tube studies, meanwhile, scientists have shown that acai extracts can trigger cancer-cell death and lower inflammation. However, until human studies can replicate these findings, acai shouldn't be considered a surefire cancer-fighter or anti-inflammatory agent.
By following a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods, you can greatly boost your antioxidant intake without relying on insufficiently studied supplements.
Find out the best food sources of antioxidants.
Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. "Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2006 22;54(4):1222-9.
Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, Pacheco-Palencia LA, Meibohm B, Talcott ST, Derendorf H. "Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008 10;56(17):7796-802.
Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, Ou B, Huang D, Owens J, Agarwal A, Jensen GS, Hart AN, Shanbrom E. "Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai)." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2006 1;54(22):8604-10.
Please stay tuned for.....Acidophilus and Other Probiotics
Probiotics are live microbial organisms that are naturally present in the digestive tract andother parts of the body.
Probiotics are considered beneficial and are sometimes referred to as "friendly" bacteria. Some of the ways they are thought to promote health include suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, improving immune function, enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract, and helping to produce vitamin K.
There are over 400 species of microorganisms in the human digestive tract, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
A number of medical, diet, and lifestyle factors are believed to disturb the balance in the colon. This imbalance is called dysbiosis. Factors include:
- Inadequate dietary fiber
- Oral antibiotic therapy
- Infant formula feeding
- Ingestion of environmental toxins
No longer kept in check, less healthy bacteria and yeast may flourish, which is thought to increase the likelihood of conditions such as infectious diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections.
Probiotics can be found in capsule, liquid, powder, or tablet form. Acidophilus drinks can be found in health food stores and some grocery stores and Asian grocers.
Probiotics can also be found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt or kefir, however, the number of live organisms varies greatly from product to product due to differences in processing methods. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut also contain probiotics.
Once ingested, probiotics colonize the intestines and other parts of the body and can sustain themselves unless they are destroyed by antibiotics or other factors.
Although they are thought to be essential for health, because they can sustain themselves in the body under normal circumstances, there is no recommended daily intake of probiotics.
"Prebiotics" are also thought to improve the balance of probiotics in the intestines. They are non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Sources of prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FO and inulin, found in onions, asparagus, chicory, and banana. FOS is also available as a supplement and is sometimes combined with probiotic dietary supplements.
- Diarrhea Due to Antibiotic Use
- Traveler's Diarrhea
- Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn's Disease
- Immune Support
- Lactose Intolerance
- Prevention of Colds
- Allergic Rhinitis / Hayfever
- Colon Cancer Prevention
- Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
- Canker Sores
A literature review on probiotics found 185 studies published in what they deemed to be credible journals between 1980 and 2004. The most commonly studied condition was diarrhea (41 or 22% of the 185 studies).
Seven studies looked at probiotic use in adults, focusing on the strains Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus GG, L casei, L acidophilus, and S boulardi. Although they varied in dose and probiotic strain, in six of the studies, probiotics shortened the course of diarrhea or decreased its severity.
Many studies have looked at probiotic use in children. Once again, there is a wide range of doses and probiotic strains. The most commonly used strains were Lactobacillus acidophilus, L casei, L GG, and Bifidobacteria. In 20 of the studies published between 1980 and 2004, all of the studies found an improvement.
Seven out of 12 controlled trials reported a definite prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In addition, a meta-analysis looked at 9 randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials with a total of 1214 patients. Six of the nine trials showed a significant benefit of probiotics.
More evidence is needed on the effectiveness of probiotics in such conditions as lactose intolerance, constipation, heart disease risk factors, and Crohn's disease.
Side effects of probiotics may include mild, temporary digestive complaints, such as gas and bloating.
People who are immunosuppressed should seek medical advice before using probiotics. It is possible that the probiotic itself may cause a serious infection. One death was reportedly linked to probiotic use in a person taking immunosuppressant medication.
(You will notice that the individual was taking immunosuppressant medication. It was the Medication, that interferred with the Probiotic.)
Probiotics may interact with immunosuppresant medication (see above). Probiotics are recommended by some health practioners during and/or after antibiotic use.
Agarwal K.N., Bhasin S.K., Faridi M.M., Lactobacillus casei in the control of acute diarrhea–a pilot study. Indian Pediatr (2001) 38 : pp 905-910.
Floch MH, Montrose DC. Use of probiotics in humans: an analysis of the literature. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. (2005) 34 (3): 547-70, x.
Guslandi M., Giollo P., Testoni P.A., A pilot trial of Saccharomyces boulardii in ulcerative colitis. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol (2003) 15 : pp 697-698.
MacGregor G, Smith AJ, Thakker B, et al. Yoghurt biotherapy: contraindicated in immunosuppressed patients? Postgrad Med J. (2002) 78:366–367.
Mansour-Ghanaei F., Dehbashi N., Yazdanparast K., Efficacy of Saccharomyces boulardii with antibiotics in acute amoebiasis. World J Gastroenterol (2003) 9 : pp 1832-1833.
Pedone C.A., Arnaud C.C., Postaire E.R., Multi-centric study of the effect of milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei on the incidence of diarrhoea. Int J Clin Pract (2000) 54 : pp 568-571.
Raza S., Graham S.M., Allen S.J., Lactobacillus GG promotes recovery from acute nonbloody diarrhea in Pakistan. Pediatr Infect Dis J (1995) 14 : pp 107-111.
Shornikova A.V., Casas I.A., Mykkanen H., Bacteriotherapy with Lactobacillus reuteri in rotavirus gastroenteritis. Pediatr Infect Dis J (1997) 16 : pp 1103-1107.