Category: Health

March 7th, 2020 by admin

In Brief

  • The Facts:Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years for multiple health benefits. Its an ancient medicine.
  • Reflect On:How much would we discover if the same resources that are put into modern day medicine were put into studying nature and what substances can successfully treat multiple ailments?

I was recently introduced to the amazing benefits of ashwagandha root, also sometimes referred to as Indian Ginseng, and since then, have spent considerable time researching the health benefits of this herb. These days we often hear about “superfoods” or “miracle” foods and herbs, and it seems every supplement claims to be the best one. But can they all be the best? Ashawagandha just might be! This herb can treat a wide array of ailments and assist our bodies with many vital functions.

This herb is an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body tackle stress by lowering cortisol levels, managing fatigue and mental fog, and improving concentration. These are all things that I have been struggling with, and inevitably what led me to try this herb in the first place. Once I started taking it, I immediately noticed a difference in how my body was handling stress.

Really, there are too many benefits of ashwagandha to name, so here are just a few of the many it offers, backed by science.

1. It Is an Ancient Medicinal Herb

Ashwagandha is a very important herb in Ayurveda and has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration.

2. It Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in several studies. A test tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.

Human studies have shown its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both diabetics and healthy individuals.

A small study — conducted on just six people with type 2 diabetes and six with high cholesterol — had participants supplementing with ashwagandha for 30 days, and found it lowered fasting blood sugar levels just as much as an oral diabetes medication.

3. It Can Reduce Cortisol Levels (Stress Hormone)

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released in response to stress and low blood sugar. For many people, cortisol levels become chronically elevated, which can lead to both high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen.

Multiple studies have shown that ashwagandha can help to reduce cortisol levels.

In a controlled study conducted on chronically stressed adults, the group given ashwagandha saw significantly greater reductions in cortisol levels than the control group. The group taking the highest dose of the supplement had an average of a 30% reduction.

From my own experience, I have already noticed this effect, and have found that I no longer get stressed as easily or for as long.

5. It May Help Reduce Anxiety

Because ashwagandha is best known for its ability to combat stress and bring about a calm, clear state of mind, it also can reduce anxiety levels as well.

One study, conducted over a 60 day period on 64 people with chronic stress, showed that those taking ashwagandha reported an average of 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to only 11% in the placebo group.

And a six-week study showed that 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in their anxiety levels compared to 50% from those who took a placebo.

6. It May Reduce Symptoms of Depression

More research needs to be done to provide a solid case for this claim, but preliminary studies have shown promising results.

A controlled 60-day study conducted on adults reporting high levels of stress showed that those who took 600 mg per day of ashwagandha reported an astounding 79% reduction in severe depression. The placebo group reported a 10% increase.

7. It Can Boost Testosterone and Fertility in Men

One study conducted on 75 infertile men showed an increase of sperm count and mobility on the group treated with ashwagandha.

Another study showed that the men who received ashawagandha for stress ended up experiencing higher levels of antioxidants and better sperm quality. After only three months of treatment, 14% of the men’s partners had become pregnant.

8. It Can Improve Memory and Brain Function

Some studies on animals suggest that ashwagandha may reduce memory and brain function issues caused by a disease or injury. This supplement promotes antioxidant activity and protects nerve cells from free radicals.

One study conducted on epileptic rats found a near complete reversal of spatial memory impairment after being given ashwagandha. They believe this was a result from a reduction in oxidative stress.

Ashwagandha has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine to boost memory, though more research needs to be done on humans to determine whether it does function in this capacity. In one controlled study, however, researchers gave healthy men a 500 mg supplement daily and noticed significant improvements in their reaction time and task performance compared to men who received only a placebo.

9. Stimulates the Thyroid Gland

In cases of hypothyroidism, ashwagandha can be used to stimulate the thyroid gland. One study determined that daily supplementation could increase the secretion of thyroid hormones.

10. Promotes Muscle Growth

One study showed an increase of muscle mass and a decrease in fat after just 30 days of taking between 750-1250 mg of ashwagandha.

Another study showed that those taking the herb had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size. They also had more than double the reduction in body fat compared to the placebo group. This study was relatively small, however, only conducted on 57 young males, so more research needs to be done.


There are many potential benefits to gain from supplementing with ashwagandha. To determine if it’s right for you, be sure to talk to your supplement expert at your local health food store, or your ayurvedic medicine practitioner, to find out the dosage best suited for you and your needs.


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Plant based Diet
March 6th, 2020 by admin

In Brief

  • The Facts:A whole foods plant based diet is far different from a plant based diet containing processed vegan foods. The benefits of this diet are huge even though still misunderstood.
  • Reflect On:Do you believe that mock meats and processed vegan foods are healthy because they are vegan? This is not the form of plant based diet we should be after for optimal health.

Many of the important benefits of a plant-based diet – particularly for climate health and animals – are well known. Yet despite the science being very clear, there remains confusion about the impact on human health.

We have long known for example, that a diet centred around whole plant-foods – fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, beans, nuts and seeds – significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. In fact, a low fat plant-based diet is the only diet to have been shown to actually reverse established coronary artery disease. It has also been seen to reverse type 2 diabetes, enable effective and sustained weight loss without portion control or exercise, and arrest the progression of early stage prostate cancer.

Here are five additional benefits of a plant-based diet that may surprise you.

1. Improves mental health and wellbeing

Diet choices can have a major impact on mood and mental health, and there is a very good reason for this. Diet affects the health of our gut bacteria, which produce many of the hormones active in the brain. Gut bacteria thrive on fibre, which is only found in whole plant foods. So it is no surprise to find that a plant-based diet can benefit mental health.

In one US study conducted at a large insurance company, participants who were overweight or had a history of type 2 diabetes were either prescribed a low-fat vegan diet or asked to continue their usual diet for 18 weeks. The results showed a significant improvement in mental health, wellbeing and work productivity in those on the vegan diet, as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety.

2. Reduces arthritic pain

Osteoarthritis, the painful breakdown of cartilage in the joints, appears to be an inevitable consequence of ageing. It is not reversible but it is manageable, usually with pain medication and sometimes surgery.

So what role could a plant-based diet play here? One small study looking at the diet’s impact showed a significant improvement in self-reported pain and functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One reason for this could be the anti-inflammatory properties of the micro-nutrients present in plant foods, as inflammation is the main cause of pain in arthritis. Meat-based diets have the opposite effect and, in general, increase the level of inflammation in the body.

3. Improves period pain in women

So if a plant-based diet can improve arthritis pain, could it also perhaps improve other types of pain? Some research suggests it could help with period pain in women.

For this study, women swapped to a low-fat vegan diet for two menstrual cycles, and then back to their usual omnivorous diet for their next two. Pain duration and intensity and pre-mentrual symptoms were recorded and levels of a hormone affecting oestrogen levels were measured.

On the low-fat vegan diet, women reported less pain duration and intensity, shorter duration of premenstrual symptoms and tests showed a lower level of oestrogen. People are often surprised to hear that diet can impact hormone levels in the body. This study shows exactly that, and how lower oestrogen levels can benefit women’s health in a number of ways.

4. Reduces the risk of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common causes of infection in the general population with the bacteria Escherichia coli (E coli) often being the culprit. Infection can occur because E coli from the intestine finds its way into the urinary tract. But UTIs can also be caused by E coli strains commonly found in farm animals such as chickens and pigs, so eating contaminated sources of meat can lead to infection.

Given the link between E coli and UTIs, It might seem obvious that those on a plant-based diet who avoid meat might have a lower risk of infection, but whether this was the case was not known for sure until recent research came out.

The analysis of several studies shows that vegetarians have a 16% lower risk of UTIs compared to non-vegetarians. This confirms previous data suggesting that meat-bourne bacteria are a major contributor to the risk of UTIs. Increasingly these food borne bacteria are displaying antibiotic resistance.

5. Saves on hospital costs

So if those following a health plant-based diet have a lower risk of ill health then surely this will save on health costs.

In a large Taiwanese study, vegetarians were found to have a lower rate of outpatient visits, which translated into a 13% lower outpatient expenditure and a 15% lower total medical expenditure. So it is interesting to hypothesize the health economic impact of a plant-based diet on the UK’s cash-strapped National Health Service.

In 2017, spending on healthcare in the UK totalled £197 billion – approximately £2,989 per person. If everyone in the country shifted to a vegetarian diet, this could (using the 15% reduction as a guide) reduce healthcare expenditure by £30 billion.

Plant-based diets then, not only have the potential to dramatically improve human and planetary health, but could have significant benefits for the health of the economy too.

Shireen Kassam, Visiting Professor, Health and Wellbeing Research Group, University of Winchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


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March 2nd, 2020 by admin

With around 50 million people suffering from diabetes in India, our country is rightly called the diabetes capital of the world. The situation is alarming because the condition is not just hitting adults but kids too.

If you are suffering from diabetes, you know how crucial it is to be absolutely aware of not just what you eat but of also what you drink. Many drinks are high in carbohydrates, which can affect your blood sugar when ingested by your body. But what should you do when you feel like sipping on something?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends zero-calorie or low-calorie drinks to prevent the spike in blood sugar.

1. Herbal tea

Herbal tea is one of the best options for diabetics. These teas are not just healthy but tasty too. They have a subtly sweet flavour and do not raise the blood sugar level. Inflammation is said to have a role in diabetes and some herbs help reduce inflammation.

2. Coffee

A study conducted in 2012 found that drinking coffee can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is lowered for people who consume two-three cups of coffee every day. But it’s important to have your coffee without sugar. Adding sugar and cream can increase the calorie count, which can affect your blood sugar levels so black coffee is the best bet.

3. Vegetable Juice

While most fruit juices have too much sugar, you can try mixed vegetable juice. Blend some green leafy vegetables with a handful of berries to make the healthiest and yummiest juice. This blend will supply you with loads of vitamins and minerals, which are good for the condition.

Source: Times of India

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Cure for Cancer
March 1st, 2020 by admin

“Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”

Every once in a while, medical researchers simply have a stroke of good luck. In this case, that stroke of good luck could have a profound effect on the medical community.

Researchers at Cardiff University were in the midst of analyzing blood from a bank when they accidentally stumbled into an “entirely new type of T-cell.” The new cell carries a “never before seen” type of receptor that acts like a grappling hook, latching on to most human cancers. 

Prior therapies, called CAR-T and TCR-T, which use immune cells to attach to HLA molecules on cancer cells’ surface, are incapable of fighting solid tumors, the article notes. HLA molecules vary in people, but the new therapy instead attaches to a molecule called MR1, which does not vary in humans. This gives the therapy a chance of fighting most cancers.

It also means people could share the treatment, which could allow banks of cells to be stored and offered quickly, as needed.

The study stated:

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-independent, T cell-mediated targeting of cancer cells would allow immune destruction of malignancies in all individuals. Here, we use genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screening to establish that a T cell receptor recognized and killed most human cancer types via the monomorphic MHC class-I related protein, MR1, while remaining inert to noncancerous cells … These finding offer opportunities for HLA-independent, pan-cancer, pan-population immunotherapies.

It concluded:

“In summary, we describe a TCR that exhibits pan-cancer recognition via the variant MR1 molecule, and, by equipping patients with melanoma T cells that lacked detectable cancer reactivity with the MC.7 G5 TCR, we rendered the T-cells capable of killing autologous melanoma.”

What does that mean? It means it works. Additionally, T-Cells of skin cancer patients altered by the treatment were capable of killing the patient’s cancer cells and other patients’ cancer cells as well.

The lead author on the study, Andrew Sewell, said: “This was a serendipitous finding, nobody knew this cell existed. Our finding raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population. Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”

“This new type of T-cell therapy has enormous potential to overcome current limitations of CAR-T, which has been struggling to identify suitable and safe targets for more than a few cancer types,” said Professor Oliver Ottmann, Cardiff University’s Head of Haematology.

Trials on terminally ill patients could start as soon as November.


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Psilocybin Significantly Helps With Anxiety and Depression
March 1st, 2020 by admin

A single dose of magic mushrooms can reduce stress and anxiety in cancer patients for as long as five years.

More research continues to be published showing the potential impact that psychedelic compounds can have on mental health treatment.

A team at New York University‘s Grossman School of Medicine recently conducted followup research to the 2016 study which showed that cancer patients who took psilocybin noticed “significant improvements” in their levels of stress and anxiety. The 2016 study was actually a follow-up of groundbreaking research that began at John’s Hopkins University in 2012. All of the studies have had very similar results.

In the 2016 study, patients taking psilocybin along with therapy noticed “immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and led to decreases in cancer-related demoralisation and hopelessness, improved spiritual wellbeing, and increased quality of life.

In the newest study, researchers found that test subjects later said that the experience led them to make positive changes in their lives. The research is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

According to the study:

Participants overwhelmingly (71 to 100 per cent) attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy experience and rated it among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.”

Researchers are still unclear about how this process works mechanically in the brain, but there are theories that psilocybin relaxes areas of the brain associated with rumination, worry, and rigid thinking. 

Gabby Agin-Liebes, a lead author of the most recent study, explained:

“These results may shed light on how the positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin persist for so long. The drug seems to facilitate a deep, meaningful experience that stays with a person and can fundamentally change his or her mindset and outlook.”

With so many new studies showing the potential of these compounds for therapeutic use, steps are being made to bring legal psychedelic treatments to the market.

It was announced last year that a startup called Compass Pathways had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to develop treatments for depression and possibly even pharmaceuticals containing psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic mushrooms.”

Compass Pathways launched in the UK in 2016 thanks to funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. While the company is just now receiving approval to run trials in the U.S., they were already approved in Canada, the Netherlands, and at their base of operations in the UK.


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