Holistic Healthcare News Briefs: Seeing Red … Wine

People over age 55 who consume up to 3 glasses of red wine per day have a significantly lower risk of developing cataracts, compared with non-drinkers and heavy drinkers of other types of alcohol, according to data from the Reykjavik Eye Study.

The five-year study was designed to identify both risk factors and preventive factors for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other age-related eye disease in the Icelandic population. Investigators tracked 832 men and women, all over 55, who underwent eye examinations including Scheimpflug lens imaging to assess cataract development. Thorough details on diet, medication use, alcohol consumption and other lifestyle factors were gathered via questionnaires. The data were presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology by Fridbert Jonasson, MD, professor of ophthalmology, University of Iceland.

Non-drinkers had the highest rate of cataracts, with a 5-year incidence of 33.2%. In contrast, regular red wine drinkers had a 5-year incidence of only 13%. Heavy drinkers of wine, spirits and other types of alcohol had an intermediate incidence of 22%. Beer drinkers, who did not regularly consume red wine, had considerably higher cataract rates than frequent red wine drinkers.

Dr. Jonasson's team also found that smoking, not wearing sunglasses, and use of steroid medications were strongly associated with increased rates of cataracts. (Source: Medscape)

Idaho Passes ND Licensure Bill

In April, Idaho became the 14th state to establish licensure for naturopathic doctors, when Gov. Dirk Kempthorne signed the Idaho Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Act. The bill will become law on July 1.

According to Todd Schlapfer, ND, legislative chair of the Idaho Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the new law is a "title and practice" act, defining the criteria under which a practitioner may call him/herself a naturopathic physician. These criteria include graduation from one of the 4-year naturopathic medical colleges, and cover only those with ND or NMD degrees.

The law also defines naturopathic scope of practice Dr. Schapfer said the law gives NDs and NMDs a "generous" scope that includes, "conventional and naturopathic diagnostic procedures, and all modalities and therapies consistent with naturopathic education and training." Naturopaths will be permitted to do minor office surgical procedures.

Obstetrical privileges will be permitted to naturopaths who satisfy obstetrical safety criteria as defined by the Idaho board of nursing. Under the new law, NDs and NMDs will have limited prescribing privileges; a naturopathic formulary will be determined by an independent formulary council composed of naturopathic physicians, MDs and pharmacists.

Supplement Standard-Setters Face Defunding

The Dietary Supplements Task Force (DTSF), an independent third-party agency involved in establishing analytical testing standards for botanical medicines and nutritional supplement ingredients, is nearing the end of its contract with the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Task Force, a subdivision of AOAC International, a chemical standard-setting group, had a 5-year contract with these federal agencies, to develop testing standards and validated methods for 25 common supplement ingredients including glucosamine, ginseng, lycopene and co-enzyme Q10. The contract, and this important work, will end next year, unless the DTSF can secure new funding sources.

Establishment of validated analytical standards and testing methodologies is essential for a scientific approach to dietary supplement quality control. Barry Titlow, head of the DTSF's Co-Q10 standards committee, said the Task Force will complete the work to establish standards for the first 25 ingredients by the time the federal contract ends. He added that there are a vast number of ingredients for which analytical standards do not yet exist.

He is calling on leaders in the dietary supplements industry and healthcare professionals concerned with nutritional medicine and supplement safety to consider making donations to a fund that would allow the DTSF to continue its work. For more information, visit: www.aoac.org. (Source: NutraIngredients USA daily newsletter)

Vitamin E and Alzheimer's: Conflicting Data

Surprising new data from the Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurology indicate that compared with placebo, high-dose vitamin E has no effect in preventing the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Ronald Petersen and colleagues randomized 769 patients with MCI to three years of treatment with placebo, 2000 IU vitamin E or 10 mg donepezil. Overall, 212 of the patients developed Alzheimer's within the three-year period, an overall progression rate of 16% per year. There were no differences in the numbers of patients progressing to Alzheimer's between the three treatment arms, suggesting that neither vitamin E or donepezil can prevent long-term progression. Those on donepezil showed lower progression rates during the first 12 months, but this advantage was lost by Year Three. The findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 2005 annual meeting, and will be published in the June 9 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Petersen's findings were unexpected given the data from a recent John's Hopkins study indicating that people who took Vitamin E in combination with Vitamin C-containing multivitamins were less likely to develop Alzheimer's (Zandi PP, et al. Arch Neurol 2004; 61(1): 82–88). A number of epidemiologic studies have also suggested that the antioxidant vitamin can delay or prevent progression to Alzheimer's.

South Asian Fruit Compound Reduces Appetite, Controls Weight

A supplement ingredient derived from the South Asian fruit called Garcinia cambogia can reduce hypothalamic levels of neuropeptide Y, a key regulator of appetite, according to data presented at the recent Experimental Biology 2005 conference sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

Pharmacologists at the University of Houston, studied hypothalamic effects of Super CitriMax, a proprietary derivative of the Garcinia fruit, which is marketed by InterHealth Nutraceuticals as an aid in weight loss. CitriMax, which is high in a compound called (–)hydroxycitric acid (HCA), has been shown in both animal and human studies to reduce body weight while increasing serotonin release.

The current study indicates that CitriMax' net effect on weight is related to its ability to down-regulate appetite. This makes it different from other plant-based weight loss ingredients that are high in ephedra or caffeine and induce weight loss by speeding metabolism and increasing thermogenesis. HCA does not have any CNS stimulatory effects.

"This study provides powerful new evidence on Super CitriMax's ability to influence brain chemicals and neuropeptides involved in appetite control and eating behavior," said Suny Ohia, PhD, dean of pharmacology at the University of Houston, who presented the new data. For more information on SuperCitriMax, visit: www.interhealthusa.com.

Zinc Carnosine Speeds GI Mucosal Healing

Data presented at the recent meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association showed that zinc carnosine, a polymeric combination of the carnosine dipeptide and elemental zinc, can increase the rate of gastrointestinal mucosal cell migration by a factor of 3 to 4.

Animal experiments and a large number of human clinical studies have previously shown that taking oral zinc carnosine improves the rate of healing in subjects with stomach ulcers. The compound also reduces the amount of inflammation (gastritis) that can occur as a prelude to ulcer formation. These recent studies provide new insights into the mechanisms of action of zinc carnosine and suggest that it acts via multiple mechanisms including anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory and increased mucosal migration.

The gastrointestinal tract is under constant attack from luminal acid, digestive enzymes, bacteria, medications such as aspirin and dietary and other lifestyle factors (such as smoking and alcohol). When an injury occurs, the defect is initially closed by surviving cells migrating over the denuded area to re-establish a continuous protective epithelial cell layer. This is followed by an increase in the rate for cell growth to make up for the lost cells.

The current cell culture study showed that zinc carnosine was able to speed the rate of cell migration and also cell proliferation (Fizgerald A, et al. Gastroenterology 2005; 128: A219). The same pattern was observed in a variety of cells of human gut origin. Importantly, the effects of zinc carnosine were far superior to adding equivalent amounts of zinc sulphate or a control protein. Originally developed in Japan, zinc carnosine was introduced as a dietary supplement ingredient called PepZin GI, by Lonza, a Swiss fine chemical company.

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