Friday, September 29, 2006

Population Control With Piper Longum?

Scientific research released last March 2006 by the Taylor & Francis Health Sciences of the Taylor and Francis Group, a leading international academic publisher with over two decades in experience, show that Piper Longum could contain the solution to population control.

The study involved the use of the crude extract, the different fractions, and the major pure compound from the active fraction of the powdered fruits of Piper Longum in female rats for 7 days. The study was meant to identify the antifertility activity of natural products, such as Piper Longum.

The study noted that the crude extract and the hexane fraction of the Piper Longum exhibited 100% and 86% efficacy respectively from days 1 to 7 of the study.

It was not made clear, however, if the scientists will progress the study in humans or for human use, and whether or not human consumption of Piper Longum has the same antifertility effects.

(Source: Antifertility Activity Of Piper Longum In Female Rats, TaylorAndFrancis.MetaPress.Com)

Black Pepper Oil

Necessity is the mother of invention. Convenience is its daughter. Brilliant people have come up with many solutions to relieve their ailments and to make life easier. One of this is black pepper oil.

An option to dashing up your dishes with fresh black pepper, black pepper oil is a convenient way to spice up your meals without the hassle of sneezing or, for others, shedding tears. Some people find the smell of black pepper revolting but would like to experience its benefits. Others prefer a sublime taste of it against their tastebuds, but look forward to its tangy effect in their dishes.

Still there are some people who prefer not to ingest black pepper yet receive the wonderful benefits it can bring to their overall health and wellness. Thanks to aromatherapy, this has become possible.

Unlike the known benefits black pepper has on bodily processes, black pepper oil helps get rid of toxins, stimulates and strengthens the body, cures colds, and creates warmth and heat in the body during cold weathers.

Black pepper oil can be used in a hot water bath, with other vegetable oils when cooking or when you need a good relaxing massage.

(Source: Infused Olive Oils, BoyajianInc.Com and Black Pepper Aromatherapy Essential Oil by Power Health, WorldWideShoppingMall.Co.Uk)

Black Pepper, A Slimming Agent?

You probably know by know that black pepper has a lot of health benefits aside from helping you derive the most benefit from your food.

Aside from being a wonderful seasoning, it is a multi-tasking spice that promotes healthy digestion, promotes healthy sweating (diaphoretic), promotes urination (diuretic) and that prevents the formation of intestinal gas (carminative).

But, did you know that pepper is also a slimming agent?

"The outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn," reads the write-up of Peppermills.Com on Black Pepper, which is also known as Piper Nigrum.

This is probably why black pepper is regarded as a metabolism enhancer and is a major ingredient of Bioperine, a patented product advertised for weight loss.

BodyBuilding.Com promotes Bioperine as the only product sourced from 95% piperine that can enhance the body’s natural thermogenic activity, which is the metabolic process that generates energy at the cellular level in the human body.

Evidence of black pepper’s capacity to boost natural thermogenic activity can be found simply by eating a lot of it in the food you eat. If you have no idea of what we mean, take a bite out of your favorite meal that’s been heavily spiced with black pepper and feel the beads of perspiration form out of your skin afterwards along with the body heat that will come with it.

The Copper In Black Pepper

Did you know that black pepper has copper? Yup, you heard it right! That’s dietary copper. Did you know that copper is essential to humans and most animals because we need it to absorb and utilize iron?

According to NutritionData.Com, "the influence of copper on health is due to the fact that it is part enzyme, which are proteins that help biochemical reactions occur in all cells" such that the symptoms of a person having deficiency in copper is "similar to a person having iron deficiency anemia".

Copper is, in short, involved in the absorption, storage and metabolism of iron. However, recent studies suggest that copper can do more than this—especially for dieting women.

Scientists of the Agricultural Research Service of the United States suggests consuming about three times the recommended amount of dietary copper to help women retain calcium in their bones when dieting. This recommendation was given after findings conducted by the said agency revealed that people who are overweight or obese are vulnerable to losing unhealthful amounts of calcium from their bones when they go on weight-loss diets.

Increasing your intake of black pepper when dieting is therefore helpful, since black pepper is a rich source of dietary copper. But whether or not on the diet, giving your meals a dash of pepper every time prevents the unwanted effects of osteoporosis, iron-absorption problems, and digestion difficulties.

(Sources: Copper, Glossary, NutritionData.Com, 2006; Study Suggests Boning Up On Copper While Dieting, United States Department Of Agriculture Website, March 2006)

Recent Study Shows People Use Pepper To Relieve Asthma

Having asthma is no joke. There’s so many things you have to be careful for: the weather, the environment, the food you eat, the perfume the people you go with have on at the moment, and so much more.

Having a spell of asthma is never easy nor cheap either. The cost of medication has gone up along with the hospital bills that could come if your asthma is left untreated.

This is probably why residents of Trinidad and Tobago opted to use pepper and other natural herbs such as ginger, garlic, aloes, shandileer, wild onions, and black sage to relieve asthma.
Though the study did not clarify what type of pepper the residents often used, the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago revealed that 58 out of 191 patients were found to use herbs as a remedy to asthma.

The study, conducted between June-July 2003, showed that 58.6% of the herb-using patients obtained herbs from their backyards or supermarkets while 24.1% obtained herbs from herbalists, herbal shops, or pharmacies. Patients were found to use the herbs mostly as a result of the advise given by a relative or a friend.

(Source: Medicinal Herb Use Among Asthmatic Patients Attending A Specialty Care Facility In Trinidad, National Center for Biotechnology Information Website)

Pepper Up Your Digestion!

Although the most common of all spices, black pepper gives more than your usual "thwang!" to your dishes and on your tongue. Black pepper is now being widely promoted for its benefit to improve one’s overall digestion.

Black pepper works like Yogurt in promoting your digestion, except that its benefit starts the moment it touches your tongue.

According to the BestHealthFoodInfo Website, black pepper stimulates the taste buds thereby signaling to the stomach to increase its secretion of hydrochloric acid, which in turn improves the digestion of food once it reaches the stomach.

Black pepper also helps alleviate heartburn and indigestion while reduces the formation of intestinal gases.

So for those of you who needs a little help on your digestive processes, remember to add a pinch or dash of pepper in your food during every meal. This is a cheap alternative and great option to eating dairy products like Yogurt.

(Source: http://www.besthealthfoodinfo.com/The_Many_Benefits_Of_Black_Pepper.php)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More On The White Bean Extract

"Scientific support studies in humans show that the partially purified white kidney bean extract (Phaseolus Vulgaris) can effectively inhibit up to 95% of intestinal amylase activity, thereby preventing dietary starch digestion and the corresponding after-meal rise in insulin concentration," says the Medical Home Products Website.

Emphasizing the benefits of regular intake of starch neutralizers, the website reveals that, "In these studies, the partially purified bean-derived amylase inhibitor also reduced after-meal increases in plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin in test subjects. In the only study presented at a scientific meeting, 11 subjects ate four slices of white bread with 42 grams of margarine and either Phaseolamin or a placebo. Tested four hours later, those who took the starch blockers (vs. placebo) appeared to absorb 2/3 less of the digested sugars from the bread."

This means that extracts from the white kidney bean helps prevent the digestion of dietary starches and reduces the available calories your body may otherwise convert to fat. The undigested starches are carried into the intestinal tract where the body can eliminate them.

(Source: Carb Crasher, Medical Home Products Website)

Carb Control

There are many products claiming to be the best starch neutralizers. Some even go to the extent of including clinical studies as part of their literature. These are, of course, common marketing strategies applied by various companies offering organic medicines.

However, there are just those who make it hard for consumers to tell the difference of whether that company is just giving reference to a study for the benefits of its product or is simply using that reference and camouflaging it to make it like it really and specifically pertains to their product.

A sample of this "reference riders" is Carb Control. If you go through the literature, one would not find any barrier in it that would say that "based on this or that study" but would instead find the clinical study intertwined with their product’s marketing pitch.

Practices such as these shouldn’t be allowed at all. Referencing is okay, but claiming a benefit to be the exact benefit of their product is another story. The ethical way to do this would be to conduct an actual study on their product and document if it has the same result as the study they are giving reference to. If their product is really effective, what do they have to lose, right?

Surprising Results of Starch Neutralizer Studies

Medical doctors under the Integrative Medicine Program of California’s Northridge Hospital Medical Center was surprised at the results of the study they conducted on the concentrated extracts of the white kidney bean.

Results show that the starch neutralizer actually increased a person’s energy levels despite what the academe and prior studies show that a decrease in starch intake in the body will result in low energy levels.

According to the doctors involved in the research, "Patients on the starch neutralizer reported a 13% increase in energy, while those on placebo reported no improvement in this area. This is important because the starch neutralizer is not a stimulant."

Patients also reported a decline in weight and triglyceride levels in addition to a decrease in inches around their waists. But aside from these, no significant adverse effects from the starch neutralizer were reported by any of the patients participating in the study, which was conducted in December 10, 2002.

(Source: Carb Crasher, Medical Home Products Website)

White Kidney Bean Enhances Cardiac Profile

According to clinical studies conducted by the Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, patients who took a concentrated starch neutralizer extracted from the white kidney bean experienced an average of 26-point drop in their triglyceride levels.

Triglycerides is a form of bad cholesterol. Therefore, taking the starch neutralizer is beneficial in maintaining a cardiac profile and would be of more use to people who want to enhance their heart’s health.

"Patients who took a concentrated starch neutralizer extracted from the white kidney bean, lost nearly a half pound per week (3.8 lbs over eight weeks), on average, or better than 200% more than those on placebo," the research revealed. This translates to an average of 1.5 inches decline around the waists of patients or 43% more than those on placebo.

In terms of the decrease in triglyceride levels, the concentrated starch neutralizer white kidney bean extract proved to be 300% effective when compared to patients on placebo.

(Source: Carb Crasher, Medical Home Products Website)

Cancer Toxins In Phaseolamin?

The Amala Cancer Research Center concluded that lectin, a cancer-causing toxin found in Phaseolamin is too small to render such an effect to the human body.

Concluding that there is absolutely no toxicity in Phaseolamin, the Amala Cancer Research Center reveals the following findings:

  • There was no mortality or adverse reaction in any of the groups after they were given the doses indicated above.
  • There was no significant weight change in any of the animals.
  • Food consumption in all the groups remained unchanged compared to controls.
  • Liver function tests indicated that acute administration of the ingredient at the doses given did not produce any change in the liver function tests such as GOT, GPT, ALP, Bilirubin, total protein and Albumin/Globulin ratio.
  • Acute administration of the ingredient did not produce any change in the renal function as indicated by serum urea, creatinine and electrolyte levels.
  • Acute administration of the ingredient did not produce any change in the hematological parameters such as total WBC, differential count and platelets.
  • The organ weights of the liver, kidney, spleen were unchanged upon treatment with the ingredient.
  • There was no change noticed upon necropsy of the animals and histopathology of liver and kidney of the Phase 2™ treated group were normal and similar to controls.
(Source: From The Townsend Letter For Doctors & Patients, TownSendLetter.Com)

The Danger Of Phaseolamin

The human body is naturally made to absorb starch since this is converted into calories, the body’s fuel. Blocking starch from food will definitely have an equal and opposite reaction to the body. Based on studies, Phaseolamin works only with starchy foods despite its recommended daily dosage of 1000mg.

Taking the fact that Phaseolamin is a substance found in wheat and white kidney beans, it is obvious that if one would eat the real thing, the anti-starch effects of Phaseolamin would be non-existent or very minimal at the very least. Aiming to lose weight through Phaseolamin is therefore an unrealistic way to do it.

Taking also the truth that starch is not an overweight person’s enemy but inactivity, drinking Phaseolamin before meals would only prove unfavorable for the body and a waste of money for the dieter.

The best course of action would always be to convert the starch we get into food into a beneficial component for the body through physical activity.

(Reference: Phaseolamin, Vibrant Life, Ltd. Website)

Dieting With Phaseolamin

Nutritionists say that the only way to lose weight is to change your lifestyle into one that’s healthy, composed of a balanced diet, and filled with varying levels of physical activity and relaxation.

However, people heed the pitches of product advertisements more than they would their physician or nutritionist. This is why there are a lot of products in the market that offer what people look for: a quick-and-convenient makeover.

Recently, diet fanatics have been testing the waves of anti-starch absorbers such as Phaseolamin, which is believed to produce significant weight loss. Scientific studies traced back to the 1940s showed that Phaseolamin did not reveal its expected results for weight reduction.
A placebo controlled study following the initial research did show that overweight individuals consuming the Phase 2 version of Phaseolamin as part of their diet lost an average of .5 a pound a week. The catch lies in the what the individuals in this study actually had.

Users of Phaseolamin will only experience its maximum benefit if it is consumed with starchy foods such as breads, pasta and potatoes, regardless of whether it was taken before or during a meal.

(Source: Phaseolamin, Vibrant Life Ltd. Website)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ginger Products and Intake

Ginger is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules and oils. Fresh ginger root can also be purchased and prepared as a tea. It is also a common cooking spice and can be found in a variety of foods and drinks.

Generally speaking, ginger intake should not exceed 2 to 4 g per day (this includes the ginger obtained through diet). For nausea, gas, or indigestion, The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 2 to 4 grams of fresh root daily or 1.5 to 3.0 ml of tincture daily. To prevent vomiting, 1 gram of powdered ginger or its equivalent may be taken every four hours as needed, or 2 ginger capsules (1 gram) three times daily. Patients may also chew a ¼ oz piece of fresh ginger.

For cold and flu, sore throat, headache and menstrual cramps the Center suggests steeping 2 tbsp of freshly shredded ginger in boiled water, two to three times daily, or place a drop of ginger oil or a few slices of fresh rhizome in steaming water and inhale.

Children under 2 years of age should not be given ginger. But for those over 2 years of age, the recommended adult dose should be adjusted to account for the child's weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb, the appropriate dose of ginger for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.

(Source: The University of Maryland Medical Center, http://www.umm.edu)

Precautions in Using Ginger

Herbs, because they are all-natural, are generally regarded as safe and the use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements or medications. As such, herbs should be taken with care, under the strict supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.

One such herb, the fresh ginger root, has been given a class 1 safety rating by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). This rating indicates that it is a safe herb with a wide dosage range. Side effects associated with ginger are rare, but if taken in excessive doses, the herb may cause mild heartburn.

Dried ginger root, on the other hand, has been given a class 2b rating, indicating that it should not be ingested during pregnancy. People suffering from gallstones should consult a physician before taking ginger.

Patients currently being treated with any of the medications listed below should not use ginger without first talking to a health professional.

Blood-thinning medications: Ginger may interfere with blood clotting; however, there have been no scientific or case reports of interactions between ginger and blood-thinning medications. Nonetheless, people taking such medication with ginger should be monitored closely by a healthcare practitioner for risk of bleeding.

Cyclophosphamide: There is a possibility that ginger may reduce the toxic side effects of cyclophosphamide (a medication used to treat a variety of cancers). However, more research is needed in this area.

(Source: The University of Maryland Medical Center, http://www.umm.edu)

Ginger Can Be Used to Treat Arthritis

Traditionally, ginger extract has long been used to decrease inflammation. Nowadays, many herbalists use ginger to help treat problems associated with inflammation such as arthritis, bronchitis and ulcerative colitis.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, reports that in a recent study conducted on 261 people with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, those who received a ginger extract twice daily experienced less pain compared to those who received the placebo. Yet another recent trial showed that ginger is just as effective as ibuprofen in reducing the symptoms of OA. To date, however, there are just a few studies being conducted investigating the benefits of ginger for arthritis.

For arthritis pain, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking fresh ginger juice, extract, or tea, 2 to 4 grams daily; or one may rub ginger oil into a painful joint; or place fresh root in a warm poultice or compress and apply to painful areas.

(Source: The University of Maryland Medical Center, http://www.umm.edu)

Got Motion Sickness?

The ginger rhizome (an underground, horizontal stem of a plant that often sends out roots and shoots from its nodes) has been revered since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Nowadays, modern medical research shows that ginger root is an effective remedy to nausea caused by motion sickness, and other forms of nausea as well.

Traditionally, Chinese women eat ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. Ginger ale and ginger beer are known to settle a queasy stomach and ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps.

While the links between ginger and motion sickness cure are well documented, at this point in time, it is much too early to tell if ginger root definitely will benefit people suffering from heart disease.

However, preliminary studies show that ginger may lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting. Both of these effects may protect the blood vessels from blockage as well as from the damaging effects of blockage such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

(Sources: The University of Maryland Medical Center, http://www.umm.edu; Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

The Medicinal Properties and Uses of Long Pepper

Piper Longum or Long Pepper is a slender, aromatic, climbing vine found mostly in India. It has a pungent and sweet taste and has been valued since ancient times as a spice and seasoning.

Not only is Piper Longum used as a spice, but it has medicinal qualities as well. The herb has nerve depressant and antagonistic effects on electro-shock and chemo-shock seizures as well as other muscular spasms. It also has analgesic, tonic, stimulant and carminative properties. The oil extracted from Piper Longum has antibacterial properties.

Long pepper also has medical uses and benefits. It is most commonly used to treat respiratory infections such as cough, bronchitis and asthma. It can also be used to treat stomachaches, diseases of the spleen and tumors. When applied externally, it soothes and relieves muscular pains and inflammation.

Piper Longum also helps stimulate the appetite and dispels gas from the intestines. An infusion of long pepper root is used after birth to induce the expulsion of the placenta.

In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Piper Longum enjoys the reputation of being a good rejuvenator. Long used as a spice, long pepper is generally regarded as safe. However, it’s best to consult healthcare professionals before using Piper Longum as a treatment for your condition.

(Source: Herbalremedies.com, http://www.herbalremedies.com)

Piperine: Uses & Effects

In appropriate doses, piperine may be useful in increasing the bioavailability of some drugs and nutrients. Scientific research has yielded preliminary evidence which suggest that piperine may aid in the digestion of food.

The substance may also have some anticonvulsant, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, there is also evidence that shows that it might be carcinogenic and cytotoxic in some circumstances and that it might interfere with reproductive processes and have negative effects on sperm.

In mice given high doses of piperine, for example, decreased mating performance, decreased fertility and anti-implantation activity - along with some other adverse reproductive events - were observed.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should generally avoid piperine supplements. Piperine, at doses generally higher than 15 mg daily, may affect the metabolism of a wide range of drugs and xenobiotics.

Piperine may form mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic, substances with nitrites. People who eat processed food containing nitrites and nitrates as food preservatives should exercise caution in the use of piperine supplements.

(Source: PDR Health, http://www.pdrhealth.com)

Piperine and Traditional Medicine

Piperine is an alkaloid found naturally in plants belonging to the Piperaceae family, such as black pepper and long pepper. It is the major pungent substance in these plants and can be isolated from the fruit of the black pepper and long pepper plants. Piperine comprises 1 to 99% of these plants.

Piperine is a solid and is essentially insoluble in water. Tasteless at first, it subsequently leaves a burning aftertaste. Piperine belongs to the vanilloid family of compounds, a family that also includes capsaicin, the pungent substance in hot chili peppers.

Piper nigrum and Piper longum have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various diseases. One such preparation - consisting of black pepper, long pepper and ginger - is known by the Sanskrit name trikatu. Another formulation, known by the Sanskrit name pippali, involves long pepper. It is believed that piperine is a major bioactive substance of these Ayurvedic remedies.

Pepper also figures greatly in traditional Chinese medicine. Black pepper has been used to treat seizures. A derivative of piperine, antiepilepsirine, has also been used for seizure disorders by the Chinese.

(Source: PDR Health, http://www.pdrhealth.com)

Sneeze It!

It is a popular belief that pepper causes sneezing. But however widespread this notion is, there are—in fact—only a few studies corroborating this fact.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, reports that some sources state that the chemical piperine (C17H19NO3), the alkaloid responsible for the taste and smell of black pepper, irritates the nostrils causing the sneezing; some say that it is just the effect of the fine dust in ground pepper; still others say that pepper is not in fact a very effective sneeze-producer at all.

The US Library of Congress agrees with the first explanation. Their website explains that when piperine enters the nose, a sneezing reflex is triggered when nerve endings inside the mucous membrane of the nose are stimulated. "Actually," the site explains, "the nose wants to kick out this irritant and the only way it knows how to do this is by sneezing."

Contemporary Formulas Containing Black Pepper

Black pepper, or piper nigrum, the dried up fruit of a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, now enjoys a lofty reputation in medical circles for its role in alleviating ailments such as nausea, allergies and others. As such, black pepper has now found its way into several formulas or medications, acting as one of the primary ingredients vital to ease certain illnesses and / or their symptoms.

One such formulation (Aller-7/NR-A2) is used to treat allergic rhinitis. The formulation contains seven plants including piper nigrum. The formula was tested on Balb/c mice, Swiss Albino mice, Wistar Albino rats (WAR) with paw edema as well as on WARs with Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis. The test showed that the formula has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Another formula, Aller-7, is a novel, botanical formulation developed also for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. It uses seven medicinal plant extracts, including those form Piper nigrum, Zingiber officinale and Piper longum. Tested on guinea pigs, the formula showed antihistaminic and antispasmodic effects.

(Source: HerbMed, http://www.herbmed.org)

Adversely Affected By Black Pepper?

People suffering from peptic ulcers should generally avoid pepper of any kind, as pepper may cause dyspepsia. There are also cases of aspiration and subsequent death due to black pepper.

In Northern Iran, there reportedly is a higher esophageal cancer rate in women than men. The cancer is thought to be due to the food the women ingested when they were pregnant. During pregnancy, the women eat sour pomegranate seeds, black pepper and garlic, which irritate the esophagus.

Similarly in Tunisia, there is a high nasopharyngeal carcinoma risk associated with preserved spiced meat (quaddid), stew mixture of red and black pepper, garlic, oil, caraway and coriander and harissa (red pepper, olive oil, garlic, caraway, salt) taken with bread.

In a lab test, 10 mg of piperine injected into rats for 30 days caused decreases in testis weight, testicular testosterone, seminiferous tubular and Leydig cells, damage to seminiferous tubules, desquamation of spermatocytes and spermatids and increased serum gonadotropins. Piperine is known to also promote DNA damage and cytotoxicity.

(Source: HerbMed, http://www.herbmed.org)

Treatments & Site Effects: The Black Pepper Way

Scientific evidence supports the use of black pepper to treat such illnesses and ailments as asthma, cholera, colic, cough, diarrhea, fever, gas, gastric ailments, hemorrhoids and indigestion. The spice is also known to help alleviate chronic rheumatism, obesity, phlegm, sinus congestion and sore throat. Topically, pepper can be used to treat boils and other skin diseases.

Although generally regarded as safe, black pepper – taken in excesses - can cause digestive inflammation. White pepper, which comes from the same fruit as black pepper, may cause circulatory congestion.

Piper Nigrum comes in various forms and is a readily-available ingredient used in a variety of foods and even beverages as a spice or seasoning. For best results, online sellers suggest for consumers to read and follow product label directions.

Herbalremedies.com advises that "if you are taking other medications or supplements, it is best to seek the advice of your healthcare professional before using this spice as a treatment for your condition."

(Source: Herbalremedies.com, http://www.herbalremedies.com)

The Medicinal Properties of Black Pepper

Piper Nigrum, or more commonly known as black pepper, was highly revered during antiquity and was once of equal value to gold. Medicinally, this spice has been used to stimulate the appetite as well as provide relief from nausea.

In India, it has been used for a variety of conditions that range from toothache to paralysis. While in East Africa, it is thought that body odor produced after eating large amounts of black pepper repels mosquitoes.

Herbalremedies.com lists the medicinal properties of black pepper. Black pepper has anthelmintic, antipyretic, anti-periodic, carminative, expectorant and stimulant properties.

Black pepper is a flowering vine cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as spice and seasoning. The same fruit is also used to produce white pepper and green pepper. The fruit is white or green depending on when it is picked off the vine, and depending on which method was used for drying. White pepper also has stimulant properties but may cause circulatory congestion.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Black Pepper and Traditional Medicine

Here’s something for the trivia buffs…

Did you know that black pepper was once used to treat eye problems? They were often ground and used as salves or poultices that were applied directly to the eye. Although popular during the 5th century, the practice was discontinued.

Currently, there is no medical evidence proving the benefits of these treatments. In fact, applying pepper directly to the eye can be downright uncomfortable, not to mention possibly damaging.

This discredited practice notwithstanding; the ancients stumbled upon something near miraculous. Black pepper has long been revered for its medicinal properties (as well as a seasoning). Black peppercorn figures greatly in remedies prescribed under the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medical practices.

Published in the 5th century, The Syriac Book of Medicines prescribes black pepper for such ailments as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pains, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay and toothaches.

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

Getting High on Capsaicin

First, there was the "Runner’s High" and now there’s a "Capsaicin High."

There have been documented cases of people getting high on chilli peppers. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, describes Capsaicin high as "a euphoric sensation caused by the consumption of large quantities of capsaicin from capsaicin-laden foods."

Capsaicin, chemical compound 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide, is commonly found in and is the active component in chilli peppers. It is a natural irritant for mammals, including humans and is produced as a secondary metabolite by plants of the genus Capsicum.

It is most probably a defense mechanism evolved by chillis as deterrents against herbivores. When taken, it produces a burning sensation in the mouth. Pure capsaicin is a lipophilic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound.

Scientists theorize that the pain induced by the intake of capsaicin causes the human body to produce endorphins. Eventually, enough endorphins are released to create a sensation that is comparable to a Runner's high.

Capsaicin as a Possible Drug Abuse Deterrent

Harvard Medical School’s Professor Clifford Woolf has proposed a radical way to combat drug abuse. He suggests using capsaicin to deter the abuse of certain extended-release drugs such as OxyContin and Ritalin.

These morphine-based drugs, when taken as prescribed, release their opioids over time. But when crushed and snorted, swallowed or injected intravenously, they produce an intense high that is addictive.

Woolf argues that adding capsaicin to the drug capsules is safe. If the capsules are swallowed whole, as prescribed, the patient would suffer no ill effects from the added capsaicin. But if it is crushed, anyone snorting or swallowing it would suffer from the exposed irritant.

In an interview with the Harvard University Gazette, Woolf said "imagine snorting an extract of 50 jalapeno peppers and you get the idea."

To date, the professor’s proposal is still in the preliminary stages of development and the additive is yet to enter the production stage.

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

The Good, The Bad and Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a chemical compound (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and is the active component of chilli peppers. As such, it is a natural irritant for mammals and produces a burning sensation in the mouth.

Capsaicin is used in medical treatments as a topical ointment used to relieve the pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. The treatment typically involves the application of a topical anesthetic until the area is numb. The capsaicin chemical is then applied by a therapist wearing rubber gloves and a face mask.

The chemical remains on the skin until the patient starts to feel the "heat" at which point, it is promptly removed. The end-result being that the patient’s nerves are so overwhelmed from the burning sensation and are unable to report pain for an extended period of time.
Ointments and balms for the relief of aching muscles sometimes also contain capsaicin in the form of a chilli oil extract.

Because it is an irritant, capsaicin is used as the active ingredient in pepper spray. Taken in large quantities, capsaicin can be a lethal poison. Symptoms of overdose include difficulty in breathing, blue skin, convulsions and painful-nipple erections.

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

Cayenne in Doses

Extensive scientific research has established the beneficial properties of cayenne pepper. Cayenne contains carotenoids (organic pigments that are naturally occurring in plants and some other photosynthetic organisms) and capsaicinoids (capsaicin and several related compounds that are produced as a secondary metabolite by certain plants of the genus Capsicum).

The characteristic carotenoids of the red paprika and cayenne-type chillies, the aromatic stimuli, the methoxy pyrazine of green bell capsicum, the esters of ripe Tabasco, the potent pungency stimuli, and the capsaicinoids of African and other Asian varieties of chillies have been of great interest to chemists and biochemists.

The Cayenne Pepper Fruit (Capsicum annuum) is a blood-red warming herb that has an invigorating effect on several body systems.

Extremely hot and spicy, cayenne pepper may be more easily taken in capsules with meals. Dr. Ray Sahelian, bestselling author of Mind Boosters and The Stevia Cookbook, prescribes that as an herbal dietary supplement, take one 500mg cayenne capsule two to three times daily, preferably with meals.

The Antioxidant Constituents of Cayenne Pepper

Dr. Ray Sahelian, bestselling author of Mind Boosters and The Stevia Cookbook, reports on his website research conducted by J. Agric Food Chemicals on the antioxidant constituents of cayenne pepper.

The research examined peppers during four maturity stages (immature green, green, immature red and red) and the individual phenolics (hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonoids), vitamin C (ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid), and individual carotenoids were characterized and quantified.

Surprisingly, some compounds found for the first time in nature were discovered. The research also showed that differences in the individual and total phenolic content between the different cayenne maturity stages could be detected.

Immature green pepper had a very high phenolic content while green, immature red and red ripe cayenne peppers showed a 4-5-fold reduction in content. On the other hand, the ascorbic acid content increased as the pepper reached maturity.

"Thus, immature green cayenne peppers showed the highest content of polyphenols, while red ripe fruits had the highest content of vitamin C and provitamin A," Sahelian said.

(Source: Dr. Ray Sahelian, http://www.raysahelian.com)

Cayenne Spices up Your Sex Life and More

Rumors have sprung up about cayenne pepper’s ability to enhance the libido and act as an aphrodisiac. Most herbs and spices help dilate blood vessels or have an influence on hormones and brain chemistry.

However, while cayenne may be one of those spices that can enhance people sexually, convincing and credible research verifying the role of cayenne as an aphrodisiac have yet to be conducted.

On the other hand, according to the Healthy Weight Forum, there is reason to believe that cayenne pepper can speed up metabolism and help the digestive system. The Forum suggests that the standard use of cayenne pepper is 10 grams with each meal. This dosage is said to promote weight loss and also prevent the forming of stomach ulcers.

Cayenne pepper is also considered as an effective and natural support for allergies. And its role in helping to alleviate fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome is extensively featured in the book, Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia written by Mary J. Shomon.

There are side effects, however, and they include a slight burning of the mouth. Taken in excess, cayenne may cause liver and kidney damage.

(Sources: Dr. Ray Sahelian, http://www.raysahelian.com; Healthy Weight Forum, http://www.healthyweightforum.org)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How NeOpuntia Should Be Used

NeOpuntia works best when 1-2 g are taken 30 min to an hour after each meal. It is important to note that it should be taken after the meal, in order for it to enter directly into contact with fat floating on the surface of the stomach, a condition where the active fibers are most efficient. The NeOpuntia website (www.neopuntia.com) recommends that for maximum efficiency, 5g should be taken per day.

Best results are obtained when taking the supplement is combined with a balanced diet, largely including fruits and vegetables. The website also strongly urges consumers not to use NeOpuntia within 2 hours of taking fat-soluble vitamin supplements.

France-based Bio Serae conducted a pilot clinical study testing NeOpuntia’s lipophilic properties. During the study, the cactus powder was tested on 10 healthy volunteers (five men and five women), with ages ranging from 21 to 50. The results showed that the quantity of fat excreted compared to the quantity ingested increased by an average of 27.4% when NeOpuntia was taken, as compared to those who were given the placebo.

The study further suggests that the daily consumption of NeOpuntia for a week favors the excretion of fat.

(Source: http://www.neopuntia.com)

Along Comes NeOpuntia

NeOpuntia, extracted from cactus leaves, is made up of complex natural fibers, NeOfiber and NeOmicel. NeOfiber binds to fat creating large complex fat / fiber molecules, while NeOmicel creates a stable fluid gel that is too large to pass through the cellular wall of the small intestine.

NeOpuntia works by attracting fat found on the top of the stomach after a heavy meal. It has the physical capacity to irreversibly bind to fat, by lipophilic interactions, thereby preventing pancreatic lipase from splitting the fat into smaller units that could pass through the small intestine.

NeOpuntia fibers first work by binding to ingested fats, then NeOmicels create a gel from it. Once NeOpuntia and fats are bound in the stomach, they cannot be absorbed into the small intestine and are eliminated naturally through the gastric system.

In 2001, Netherlands-based TNO Nutrition and Food Research conducted studies on the lipophilic capacity of NeOpuntia in a dynamic in vitro model of the gastrointestinal tract. During the study, two grams of NeOpuntia were added to a standardized meal consisting of 20 grams of sunflower oil, which was homogenized with 144grams of skim yogurt.

Various fractions of the digested meal were collected from all the gastro-intestinal compartments and the fatty acid composition was then analyzed. Results showed that NeOpuntia absorbed 28.3% of total fatty acids during the 4-hour experiment time frame.

(Source: http://www.neopuntia.com)

Phaseolamin, a Fast Way to Lose Weight

Phaseolamin, extracted from the white kidney bean, is reputed to be the first ingredient proven to neutralize starch. This is good news for weight-watchers, since it would allow them to not deprive themselves of carbohydrates. Phaseolamin works by neutralizing alpha amylase, an enzyme which converts starch into glucose and then fat; essentially allowing the carbohydrates to pass through the system safely and naturally.

An online supplement seller claims that combined with a sensible diet, phaseolamin will reduce hunger and accelerate weight loss by between one-half and one pound per week; or 4-8 pounds more than one would with diet alone.

Nutriline.org states that research shows that phaseolamin is most effective when taken with water before partaking in a starch-rich meal. When taken during or after a meal, it still retains its starch-neutralizing effect though not as potent. The study further showed that phaseolamin could still remain effective when a capsule is opened and the contents sprinkled onto the food. Nutriline prescribes that around 200 milligrams of phaseolamin per meal are needed for best results.

Phaseolamin, a carb-blocker, has no effect on fat calories. Combining phaseolamin with a chitosan-based supplement will reduce the absorption of both fat and carbohydrate calories, resulting in a more accelerated weight loss.

(Source: Nutriline, http://www.nutriline.org)

What is the Effective Hoodia Dosage?

Part of the hoodia debate is the question regarding the effective and safe dosage. Sellers claim that as a natural suppressant, hoodia is safe to ingest; as evidenced by African tribesmen who have been regularly using it for years with no adverse effects. Also, consumer reports concerning side effects have yet to be filed.

But it is important to note that while African tribesmen have been using the plant regularly, they only do so sparingly. And not for suppressing the appetite but more for treating indigestion and small infections.

However, using hoodia infrequently and in small dosages may run counter to its effectiveness as an appetite suppressant. An independent study conducted by News Target correspondent Mike Adams showed that for hoodia to have an effect on him, he had to ingest a far larger dose than that prescribed by websites selling hoodia.

He says that, "while some hoodia formulas contain only 100mg of hoodia per serving, I found that I needed 1000mg of hoodia three times a day to have any real effect." Adams is quick to add that studies on the effects of hoodia’s long-term use as well as the intake of large doses are yet to be conducted.

The Hoodia Gordonii Experience

Coupled with hoodia gordonii’s increasingly widespread popularity as a natural appetite suppressant is the seeming lack of tests into its effectiveness and safety. To address this, Mike Adams, correspondent for Newstarget.com, conducted an independent study, testing the product on himself.

Adams learned that hoodia does help suppress the appetite. However, he also shares some cautionary advice and personal observations to consumers. Most importantly, Adams notes that the dosage necessary to truly suppress his appetite was much, much larger than the dosages claimed by many websites selling hoodia.

He also notes that the supplement only appeared to work in relation with a controlled carbohydrate diet, stating that on days wherein he consumed a lot of carbs, his appetite wasn’t suppressed at all. To people who work out, he advises that hoodia, in no way, stops your body from feeling intense hunger after a heavy workout routine.

Adams concludes that, "in my experience, hoodia was a help, but it was not a miracle pill. It didn't just shut off my hunger like a light switch. It was an aid, yes, but I had to take a lot of hoodia to have any effect, and I still had to control my food choices or the hoodia offered no help whatsoever."

(Source: News Target, http://www.newstarget.com)

Hoodwinked by Hoodia?

The word is out. Some products claiming to contain hoodia gordonii do not actually contain the active ingredient alleged to suppress appetite.

An investigation revealed that 11 out of 17 brand-name hoodia supplements have failed a laboratory analysis of authenticity. The tests were conducted by California-based Alkemist Pharmaceuticals.

The authentication tests were two-fold: High-Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Some samples were even subjected further to microscopy with digital photo documentation. The results were staggering, with two-thirds of the tested supplements containing no identifiable hoodia gordonii.

For each product tested, an unopened, sealed plastic bottle was delivered to Alkemist Pharmaceuticals. Batch numbers and expiration dates on each bottle were photo-documented. Each bottle was then opened, and the chromatography and microscopic tests were then conducted on the supplements found inside.

Only six products, according to the lab test results, contain 100% genuine hoodia. The six are: Desert Burn, Hoodoba Pure, Dr. Wheeler's Afrigetics, King Hoodia, Hoodia Max and Ethno Africa.

(Source: Natural Health Report, http://www.naturalhealthreport.com)

The Hoodia Hoopla

Hoodia gordonii’s reputation as an appetite suppressant has spurred pharmaceutical companies to flood the market with it as a nutritional supplement. However, the lack of scientific research on the product as well as regulatory approval is glaring. To date, only one scientific study on hoodia has been published, it involved a clinical trial wherein plant extract was injected into the brain of rats. No published scientific trials have been performed on humans to investigate the safety or effectiveness of hoodia gordonii in pill form.

This hasn’t stopped pharmaceutical companies, however. Unilever, for one, teamed up with UK-based Phytopharm in 2004 to market hoodia extract in the form of shakes and diet bars. Another example is Goen Technologies Corporation's TrimSpa unit which markets it under the brand name X32 with Anna Nicole Smith as a celebrity spokesperson.

But previous to this, Phytopharm collaborated with Pfizer to isolate the active ingredient in hoodia that suppresses the appetite. Pfizer subsequently released the rights to the primary ingredient in 2002 prompting Paul Hutson, associate professor in the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Pharmacy, to state: "For Pfizer to release something dealing with obesity suggests to me that they felt there was no merit to its oral use."

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

Preparing and Drinking Yerba Mate Tea

Yerba Mate is a tisane or herbal tea, an herbal infusion other than that made with real tea. As such, it can be enjoyed either as a hot or cold beverage.

It steeps readily in hot or cold water. However, it shouldn’t be steeped for longer than 5 minutes. It can be steeped dark or light. EcoTeas, an online seller of Yerba Mate, suggests that a tablespoon per cup is a good starting point, after which one can adjust it to taste.

If hot water is used, splash a little cold water on the mate first to protect the flavor and nutrients. EcoTeas strongly urges to never use water over 175° F; boiling water degrades the flavor and health benefits. Drinkers may use a tea ball, French press, coffee percolator, strainer, or sip it with a gourd and bombilla.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, in South American countries, mate is traditionally sipped from a dried and carefully carved, hollow calabash (or gourd), through a special metal straw (traditionally silver) called a bombilla. The bombilla acts as both a straw and sieve, with the submerged end being flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in, but blocks the chunky matter from being sipped.

Is Yerba Mate a Carcinogen?

Reports about the repeated drinking of yerba mate leading to cancer have become widespread, especially after the death of a potential American Major League baseball player some time ago, supposedly due to a cancer caused by mate-drinking. As such, numerous epidemiologic studies on the connection between mate-drinking and cancer in humans have been launched. Initial reports state that there is actually limited evidence supporting the claim that drinking hot mate causes esophageal cancer.

Instead, some researchers suggest that the cancer is almost entirely the consequence of the hot temperature in which the tea is prepared and consumed. To illustrate this argument, researchers point to the evidence that other beverages generally consumed at a high temperature have similar links to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have even found mate to be rich in phenolic constituents and also inhibits oral cancer cell proliferation; giving credibility to claims of yerba mate’s cancer-fighting ability.

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

The Effects of Mate-Drinking

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, states that reports on the physiological effects of yerba mate have gotten scientists to sit up and take notice. Investigations delving into the reasons behind these physiological effects have begun to emerge in scientific research.

Preliminary studies show that what makes mate different from other plants containing caffeine is the effect that its xanthine cocktail has on muscle tissue. On the other hand, other natural stimulants affect the central nervous system. Research shows that mate has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue and a stimulating effect on myocardial or heart tissue.

Numerous users report that unlike coffee, drinking mate doesn’t prevent them from being able to fall asleep while still enhancing their energy and ability to stay awake at will. However, no explanations for the lack of negative effects have been offered or even credibly postulated, except for its potential as a placebo. Research do show that the amount of caffeine in one preparation of yerba mate is typically quite high, mostly because refilling mate with hot water is able to extract the highly-soluble xanthines extremely effectively.

The Yerba Mate Debate: Caffeine vs. Mateine

Yerba mate fanatics claim that it is caffeine-free and instead, contains a substance called "mateine," a stereoisomer of caffeine. However, experts state that caffeine has no stereoisomers and researchers at the Florida International University in Miami – as reported by Wikipedia - have found that mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate it better than coffee or tea.
Mate drinkers report experiencing physiological effects such as mental wakefulness, alertness and focus but minus the negative effects like jitteriness, palpitations, anxiety or diarrhea, which sometimes accompanies taking stimulants such as coffee.

EcoTeas, an online seller of Yerba mate, suggests that the main distinction between caffeine and mateine is that caffeine is a "substance" while mateine is an "effect." They further add that "maybe the issue is not with the chemical structure of the stimulant in yerba mate, but with a culture that insists on isolating a single active ingredient in this dynamic, holistic, natural herb. When you combine the nutrition, antioxidants, caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine that all naturally occur in yerba mate, you get a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Herbal Therapy Applications Of Nopal

According to the Prickly Pear Cactus report released by Dr. Armando G. Stuart in 2003, the Prickly Pear Cactus’ (Nopal) abundant mucilage and fiber content is an active complex carbohydrate that is known to have the probability to delay the absorption of glucose.

Prickly Pear Cactus’ active principles have prompted its usage for various herbal therapy applications. Samples of its utilization from Dr. Stuart’s 2003 report include:
  • A sweetened infusion of Prickly Pear Cactus drunk to lower fever and relieve chest pains
  • Healing pads from the flamed or microwaved split-open joints of the Prickly Pear Cactus for cases of rheumatic and asthmatic symptoms of the chest, liver trouble, earaches, skin abrasions, tumors or non-malignant skin growths, sun/windburn, minor rash/burn, hemorrhoids, snake/insect bites, and minor abrasions
  • Capsules containing dried Prickly Pear Cactus used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity
  • Flavonoids present in the plant and its fruit that have neuroprotective effects on cells cultured in vitro, antioxidants, and free radical scavenging properties
  • Diuretic and gastro protective effects that are potentially useful in gastric ulcer treatment

Cactus: More Than Dessert Plants

The cactus had gone beyond its traditional image of being a plain dessert plant often feared of its prickly and poisonous thorns. Nowadays, when you say cactus you end up with the words herb and medicine—totally ironic descriptions of what it once was known for.

Aside from its previously enjoyed usage as an ornamental plant, cactuses are now being stripped of their thorns, extracted, and bottled as part of weight loss pills or as dietary supplements creating additional income in the already booming and wealthy industry of herbal nutrients.

Two cactuses famous nowadays for herbal medicine are the Hoodia Gordonii and Nopal / Opuntia varieties. A priority usage of the cacti focus mainly on the miracle benefits they have in weight loss as appetite suppressants and carbohydrate blockers, respectively.

Although the Hoodia Gordonii variety is the more popular type of the two cacti, the Nopal / Opuntia is picking up in the vanity race to "easy" and "effortless" weight loss programs.

Then…There Were Carb Blockers!

"Beyond just calories and carbs, consumers are looking to lose fat and enhance lean muscle by integrating nutritional support into a comprehensive lifestyle program," informs the Supporting Weight Management article in HSR’s website.

This has prompted herbal supplements from all sorts of plants to appear in nutrition shops across America, where more than 50% of the population are suffering obesity. The new demand herbal products have also created new types of products and terminologies to classify these. One such type is the carb blocker.

According to the article, White Kidney Beans or Phaseolus Vulgaris, as it is known scientifically, were found by researches sometime in the 1970s and 1980s to contain purified alpha-amylase inhibitors that worked to decrease starch digestion—three decades before carb blockers became today’s fastest growing supplements for weight loss.

Carb blockers were since then regarded as weight loss ingredients since carbohydrates were believed to make people fat due to the natural calories it contain and are used by the body for energy. Thus, the logic implied is if you decrease carbs in your consumption you also decrease the instance of calorie-intake resulting to a slimmer body.

What people forget, however, is that everyone needs a certain level of carbohydrates to function properly. Because despite of the fad of weight loss programs, carbohydrates still remain to be under the "Go" food group—our energy resource.

(Source: Supporting Weight Management, HSRMagazine.Com)

Prick Your Fat Goodbye

Herbal plants are becoming more and more the focus of weight management products. From black pepper to yerba mate, manufacturers are finding more and more herbs to use in their products and "intensify" the effects of their products in their claims that these actually sculpt away fats from the body.

One of the plants, or a part of it, converted into this wave of weight loss herbs, is the prickly pear cactus or nopal. Extracts of the plant are said to have supported observational findings for clinical studies on its weight-loss benefits.

Called "fat binder" by the Virgo Publishing Website, the leaves of the prickly pear have been traditionally consumed in Mexico for heart and weight management. Nopal was actually tested to prevent absorption of fatty acids.

"In a pilot clinical study, 10 healthy volunteers received 1.6 g of NeOpuntia per meal or a placebo. The quantity of fat content excreted compared to the quantity ingested increased by 27% in the treatment group compared to the placebo group. An earlier study investigating the mechanism of action in a gastrointestinal model found 2 g of NeOpuntia prevented the absoprtion of 2.7 g of fatty acids during a 4-hour gastrointestinal exposure," Virgo Publishing Website revealed in their article entitled Weight Management.

Yerba Mate Claims Bring Danger

The hype on the health benefits brought by Yerba Mate is causing some folks their own health—and life!

"Heavy drinkers of (Yerba) mate in South America were documented with an increased risk of upper-aerodigestive tract cancers, a 1.6- to 4-fold increase for heavy drinkers," reports AlterNet.Org as the reason behind the American FDA conducting tests and evaluations on the herb.

With the FDA on alert, Yerba Mate vendors are now being put under scrutiny due to reports of consumer harm, misbranding, and mislabeling such as claims of reducing blood pressure. Health hazards related to Yerba Mate were born from overdose.

"Millions of people in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay give mate near religious status, obsessively consuming it throughout the day and making it a hub of intimate social gatherings. It seems certain that yerba mate is getting its North American day. Less clear is whether it will land a respected place in the annals of American herbalism or pass away as another marketing stained, fly-by-night weight loss fad," AlterNet.Org cites in their Tempest In A Teapot article.

The Hype Of Yerba Mate

According to AlterNet, along with Yerba Mate’s popularity in the U.S. come a number of snake-oily claims made by the growing number of companies that sell it that offer consumers false science and overblown claims about the drink’s consistency and physiological benefits.

"Controversy accompanies vendor claims that mate contains not caffeine, but a safer chemical called mateine, as its major psychoactive drug. But there is no unique chemical structure for mateine and that yerba mate contains caffeine just like coffee," AlterNet revealed.

In addition, AlterNet said that, "Other seemingly exaggerated claims on yerba mate’s ability to help shed pounds" since the plant already appears in a number of weight loss pills and "the drink itself is becoming a popular appetite suppressant and meal substitute thanks to lopsided media coverage and heavy marketing vendors".

So what is the truth about Yerba Mate? AlterNet cites a research made on 25 trials and reviewed data about several supplements including Yerba Mate that concluded there is no evidence beyond reasonable doubt that any specific dietary supplement is effective for reducing body weight although the studies provide some encouraging data.

(Source: Tempest In A Teapot, AlterNet.Org)

A Cure To Back Pains

The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook’s page on Back Aches writes, "Aromatherapists often suggest using the oils of birch, lavander, black pepper, clary, ginger and marjoram to alleviate backache…as all (of these) have a folkloric history for relieving cramps or backaches and all contain pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing compounds."

According to the Green Pharmacy, herbal aromatic oils work better since these oils evolved to protect the plants from herbs and other environmental stresses and the fact that aromatic herb oils evolved into a chemically complex mixture suggests that all the chemicals in them work together.

Herbal oils, being more effective, is a cheaper cure to medical surgery for back pains and aches. This is probably why black pepper oils are regaining wide acceptance in America, where back pains cost $16 billion a year in medical treatment and $80 billion in lost wages for the 2-5 million Americans suffering serious back pains each year, the Green Pharmacy reports.

Getting Up Close And Personal With Long Pepper

Generally known as Long Pepper, Piper Longum is a slender aromatic climber that is found all over India known for its pungent and sweet taste. The Herbal Remedies Website recounts that Long Pepper was once actually priced about three times that of black pepper because it was the preferred spice of ancient Rome.

Piper Longum’s medicinal qualities include being a nerve depressant and antagonistic effect on electro-shock and chemo-shock seizures as well as other muscular spasms. It is capable of such qualities because Piper Longum is an analgesic, tonic, stimulant, carminative, and antibacterial.

Available in various forms, Piper Longum is an ingredient in many products because it is generally regarded as a safe component after being been a spice to foods. However, it is advised, as with any thing we consume or indulge in for health purposes, taking supplements or medicines using Piper Longum as a treatment to your condition requires a physicians prior advice especially if it will be in conjunction to another medication.

(Source: Piper Longum Information / Pippali, Indian Long Pepper / Thippali, HerbalRemedies.Com)

The Uses Of Piperine

Piperine, a substance common to peppers and often derived from Long Pepper, is used differently for medicinal purposes in different countries around the world. But the countries commonly known as spice sources Mexico, Morocco, and Indonesia use piperine for a few regular uses.

In Mexico, piperine is used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial treatment, and cure for stomachache. Morocco, on the other hand, uses piperine as an ingredient for weight-loss and anti-leukemia treatments. The three common uses of piperine in Indonesia include fever prevention or reducer, treatment for snake venom poisoning, anti-epileptic treatment.

Piperine is not very reactive unless in a solution, however. Thus, it is a very popular assistant to the medications that save thousands of lives each year in the form of piperoylpiperidine, piperylpiperidine, and piperoylpiperidin commonly found in not only medicines that improve human life but also in insecticides and alcohol.

Now commonly used in Europe and America as an important medicinal ingredient, piperine is said to be flexible as it is soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether, benzene and water.

(Source: Uses Of Piperine and Structure, Web1.Caryacademy.Org)

Long Pepper & Piperine

Long Pepper, known in Sanskrit as pippali, is more pungent than black pepper because it contains a slightly more higher piperine content at about 6%, the Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages’ Long Pepper article said. Although most peppers have piperine, Long Pepper seems to be used more as a resource for this substance.

According to Web1.Caryacademy.Org, piperine is a deadly killer because it can be found in most insecticides particularly those that kill the common housefly. Quite ironically, though, the website said, piperine for human medical usage, piperine has been used for thousands of years to cure many small medical ailments while it is currently a very popular assistant to life-saving medications.

"Recent medical studies have shown piperine to be very helpful in increasing the absorption of certain vitamins such as Selenium, Vitamin B and Beta-Carotene. Piperine apparently has the ability to increase the body’s natural thermogenic activities. Thermogenesis is the process of generating energy in the cell. Piperine increases thermogenesis and in turn creates a demand necessary for metabolism. This so far has been particularly helpful for patients who are sick or aged with defective intestinal lining," Web1.Caryacademy.Org shared.

Natural Boosters Against Hepatitis

What happens when you combine ginger root, black pepper, and long pepper? Answer: a natural booster against Hepatitis.

"Research has shown that ginger, along with black pepper and the closely related long pepper, also improve the intestines’ absorption of other herbs. These three herbs are the ingredients of the popular Ayurvedic formula called trikatu," MotherNature.Com revealed in its Liver Diseases Section.

According to the Mother Nature Website, ginger actually protects herbal compounds from being destroyed so these can pass through the liver unchanged and continue to circulate in the blood for a longer time.

This is probably why ginger root and its co-specie, turmeric, have been shown to reduce liver damage such as hepatitis in the same way that the reishi mushroom was used to cure hepatitis by decreasing the swelling of the liver and improving the patient’s appetite, the website said.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cure For Baldness?

Who would have thought that Black Pepper can cure baldness? Well, the Japanese didn’t have no second thoughts about it for they have been using this herb as a cure to baldness and hair loss since ancient times.

It is no wonder that your don’t see bald Japanese Samurais running around with their swords in battle. Health.Telegraph.Co.Uk’s Searching For The Bald Truth imparts that extracts of black pepper are often used as a tonic for baldness in Japan.

Meanwhile, the Indian Child website’s Baldness Cure, Natural Baldness Cures Section says that 1/2 of black pepper and 1/2 lime seeds grounded together then applied to the bald patches on the head is a helpful remedy to cure baldness. This concoction from the Indian Child website is actually one of the three concoctions they offer all using herbal plants or products of herbal plants such as henna leaves, mustard oil, onions, raw mangoes, and honey.

The Indian Child Website reminds that it is important to repeat the treatment frequently for effectiveness. Nothing wrong in giving it a try, unless you have an allergy with pepper or lime seeds.

Black Pepper In Weight Loss

It is quite interesting that the common spice, Black Pepper, is now being used as an ingredient in weight loss products. Through its component Bioperine, Black Pepper augments the effects of the other ingredients in the weight loss product to ensure effectivity.

Take for example Global Healing Center’s Slimirex, which uses 9 weight loss supplements in one, including Bioperine.

According to Global Healing Center’s website, Bioperine is a standardized extract from the fruit Piper Nigrum or black pepper used in Slimirex to enhance the body’s natural thermogenic activity. Bioperine, GHC revealed, is the only product sourced out of piperine to obtain a patented status for its ability to increase the bioavialability of nutritional compounds.

"It (Bioperine) is the only source from piperine to have undergone clinical studies in the US to substantiate its safety and efficacy for nutritional use," GHC emphasized.

Giving highlights to the study conducted using bioperine with other nutrients such as fat-soluble beta-carotene, water soluble B6, and the mineral selenium, the GHC website reported that, "Gastrointestinal absorption of all the studied nutrients, as measured by amounts present in the blood, increased dramatically when administered with Bioperine as compared to the control group receiving the nutrient alone."

Nature’s Nutrient Amplifier

Looking at the products being offered on the Web, one can usually find that herbal supplements promoted for a particular purpose or benefit—such as weight loss or anti-aging—contain bioperine, the substance extracted from Black Pepper.

It seems companies themselves are including the King of Spice in their products to amplify the effect of the other herbs in the supplements they offer. Take for example Oasis Life Sciences’ AgelessXtra product, which uses Black Pepper Fruit Extract in their proprietary blend MaxCell.

MaxCell is actually a mixture of Black Pepper Fruit extract, aloe vera dried gel, the root of Chinese licorice, and jujebe fruit extract. Oasis uses 2.5 mg of MaxCell in AgelessXtra along with Green tea extract, vitamins, fruit blends and a whole other stuff meant to defer ageing.

Black Pepper’s Bioperine is effective in that other products that use it, range from cures for baldness, back pains to weight loss such as Slimirex.

(Source: Companies Fued Over Anti-Aging Formula, RockyMountainNews.Com and the World Wide Web)

The King Of Spice Soon To Be King Of Healers?

Commonly called Piper Nigrum, Black Pepper actually is one of the three products that come from the tropical plant Piper Nigrum, which produces Green Peppercorn, Black Peppercorn, and White Peppercorn.

"The same pepper vine (of the Piper Nigrum) produces three different spices depending on the maturity of the pepper berry when picked and how it is dried. Black Peppercorn (are the) mature green berries that have been harvested and sun dried for seven to ten days," the McCormick Website’s Black Pepper Fast Facts said.

According to McCormick, Black Pepper is the number one selling spice in America, which consumes more than 112 million pounds of pepper in 2004 setting a record of 80% over the past two decades.

Could the reason behind this increase be solely due to the King of Spice’s culinary benefits or is it a soon-to-be king of America’s herbal supplements counters?

Bioperine, the active ingredient found in Black Pepper, is used in many products in the United States from chewing gums to medicated oils used to heal ailments and even as an aid to weight loss.

Black Pepper products on the web, in terms of search engine results on supplements (keyword: US black pepper supplements status), produced 665,000 webpages—a far cry from the search results of Hoodia Gordonii products (keyword: US hoodia gordonii supplements status).

However, type the keyword "US piper nigrum supplements status" at Google.com and you end up with only 862 pages. It seems that Black pepper is only beginning to be used as an aid to cure ailments or prevent it in the United States, remaining to be more of the king of spice.

Use Cayenne & Ginger To Fight Colds

Need a concoction to fight the common cold? Take ginger, cayenne pepper, lemon and honey and put it in a glass of water—and viola! Your antidote. Sounds too easy?

According to the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Doctor Sharon Plank, two crushed cloves of garlic in a salad every day will help keep you incredibly healthy through the winter. But if you feel a cold coming on, drink a concoction of hot water with ginger, cayenne pepper, lemon and honey.

The Post-Gazette.Com reveals that this drink is the doctor’s remedy at home when she herself feels a cold is coming along, a ritual based on the findings of medical journals, which are reporting evidence of the power of herbs to combat illness.

Of course, additional protection from getting colds aside from drinking or eating herbs to boost the immune system would be to wash hands properly and to avoid people who have colds, Post-Gazette.Com’s Cold Comfort: Alternative Remedies Do Booming Business, But Do They Really Help? article says.

The Importance Of Reading The Label

Despite what products claim to possess, consumers should always read the label to ensure their safety. A study conducted by Reader’s Digest sometime two years ago showed that consumers who read the label already help promote their health by 43%.

Reading the label identifies if a product is right for you or not. Take for example Hoodia Gordonii supplement products being sold in stores and over the Net. One should also study the product carefully and take efforts in cross-referencing the claims of the product written in its literature—whether this is a brochure or a website.

This is important because, more often than not, manufacturers do not put the side effects their product can have on a particular person, says somebody with asthma or somebody of different metabolism. It would only be rare that one can find a manufacturer to say this—a notice about this is actually a good indication that the manufacturer actually cares about your health and their product’s effect on it.

So far, with regards to the major Hoodia Gordonii products, only TrimSpa has a warning about the possible effects of their product on certain types of individuals. Literature in their website reads, "Consult a physician before using this (TrimSpa) or any weight loss product", "Do not take if you are a diabetic", "If you are allergic to shellfish, please consult with your physician prior to taking this product" and "If you are sensitive to caffeine, we suggest that you take a lower dosage or that you do not take this product.

Dangers of Appetite Suppressants

Anything that is not natural to the flow and functioning of the human body can create negative side effects to it. An example is appetite suppressants, which many people use in their desire to lose weight.

Being a food-based organisms, humans function properly if they get the necessary nutrients they need and if this nutrient-resource become scarce, the tendency is that the body uses what is stored in it to function.

The possible side effects of appetite suppressants, according to Vanderbuilt.Edu’s article A Closer Look At The Use Of Appetite Suppressants, minor side effects are thirst, irritability, palpitation, tiredness and jitteriness.

In addition, hunger suppressants which commonly use the component Phenylpropanolamine has been shown in hundreds of reports in Medical literature to have very serious side effects such as cardiac arrhythmias, intracerebral hemorrhage, acute dystonia, myocardial injury, psychosis, cerebral arteritis and hypersensitive crisis.

What remains to be resolved is whether Phenylpropanolamine differs from the P57 component of Hoodia Gordonii since it works the same: tricking the hypothalamus that the person is already full.

What Happens After Hoodia

According to DessertBurn.com, the manufacturer of the #1 Hoodia Gordonii Supplement in the World called Dessert Burn, a large portion of the actual Hoodia Gordonii finger or stems is necessary before the cactus’ ability to suppress weight can take effect.

This is why Desert Burn has the largest manufactured capsules in the world, which should be taken four capsules a day to total a consumption of 3 gms of Hoodia. But despite this, it will take a couple of days before the dieter can actually feel the effect of the product, which is appetite loss.

Unlike most supplements, the real aim of Hoodia is to suppress appetite and nothing more. It doesn’t aid metabolism nor clean the body of its toxins. What once was an aid to dessert survival has now become a convenient escape from the discipline of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

What’s lacking in most literature found on the websites of companies offering Hoodia products is its effect on the body after withdrawing from its usage. What happens when an individual did attain his ideal weight through the usage of the product and decides to stop consuming it already?

Since the product suppresses appetite through continuous usage, it is imminent that weight gain will return to that individual unless he or she has mustered a really healthy lifestyle.