Archive for the 'Herbal medicine' Category

Essential oils to fight harmful bacteria

While I do not take this research as conclusive yet, I do think it is very intriguing.

 

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2010) — Essential oils could be a cheap and effective alternative to antibiotics and potentially used to combat drug-resistant hospital superbugs, according to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring meeting in Edinburgh.

Professor Yiannis Samaras and Dr Effimia Eriotou, from the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands, in Greece, who led the research, tested the antimicrobial activity of eight plant essential oils. They found that thyme essential oil was the most effective and was able to almost completely eliminate bacteria within 60 minutes.

The essential oils of thyme and cinnamon were found to be particularly efficient antibacterial agents against a range of Staphylococcus species. Strains of these bacteria are common inhabitants of the skin and some may cause infection in immunocompromised individuals. Drug-resistant strains, such as meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are extremely difficult to treat. “Not only are essential oils a cheap and effective treatment option for antibiotic-resistant strains, but decreased use of antibiotics will help minimise the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging,” said Professor Samaras.

Essential oils have been recognised for hundreds of years for their therapeutic properties, although very little is still known about how they exert their antimicrobial effects in humans. Australian aborigines used Tea tree oil to treat colds, sore throats, skin infections and insect bites and the remedy was sold commercially as a medicinal antiseptic from the early 20th century. Various scientific studies have demonstrated that essential oils are not only well tolerated, but are effective against a range of bacterial and fungal species. Their therapeutic value has been shown for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including acne, dandruff, head lice and oral infections.

Essential oils to fight superbugs.

Researchers Unlock Keys to Herbal Medicines

 This is an exciting development as this research group has come up with a way to test the effectiveness of whole herbs and herbal formulas instead of just one component of an herb.

Of course, for thousands of years Oriental Medicine Herbalist have been demonstrating efficacy but that cuts no ice with the FDA, so this is a step forward.

A team led by Yuan Luo PhD, MS, associate professor at the School, conducted a first-of-its- kind, “systematic evaluation” of a mixture of 10 herbs called Shi-Quan-Da-Bu-Tang (SQDB), reportedly effective for fatigue and energy; and an 11-herb formula called Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXL) used as a the treatment of arthritic joint pain. Both mixtures are reputed to have benefits for healthy living and longevity in humans.

The researchers tested the mixtures, as well as each separate herb in them, on the laboratory worm model C. elegans. This particular worm─which biochemists often use as their ‘lab rat’─ shares genes for aging and other traits with humans and other organisms.

Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia) from HLXL extended life span of the worms by 14.5 percent and cinnamon bark from SQDB extended the life 10.8 percent.

Ginseng root (Panax ginseng) from SQDB extended life span by 7.7 percent. Ginseng is not an ingredient in HLXL.

Significantly, cinnamon, ginseng, and SQDB also thinned out levels of hydrogen peroxide, which can destroy cells. They each also enhanced expression of small heat shock proteins, an indicator for cellular response to stress that plays an important role in maintenance of cell functions.

Furthermore, the life span-extending herbs appreciatively reduced in the expression in C. elegans of a toxicity factor, amyloid, which is a hallmark in the human brain of pathological development of Alzheimer’s disease….

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proof of efficacy of herbal medicines, even their modes of action in the body, are extremely difficult challenges, said, Luo.

Herbal medicines are usually mixtures of herbs. That presents a severe challenge for the Food and Drug Administration to understand which compounds or combinations of compounds in the herbs are effective or not effective.

Said Dosanjh, “Because it’s very difficult to sort out so many herbs with so many constituents together, we needed to find a model. And there is a high level of [common genetic origins] with the nematode and humans.”

Luo added, “To isolate a single compound from an herb and test it for a medical condition, it often doesn’t work; not like the whole herb works.”

In recent years, scientists have learned to use C. elegans worm as a model system in for studying gene-environment interactions. In their experiments, the School of Pharmacy researchers first used “wild” C. elegans to screen the herbal mixtures and single herbs.

more via Researchers Use Tiny Worms to Unlock Keys to Herbal Medicines.