HealthKeeper started out as a
regional publication in 1999, published by the same people who developed
HERBSatHOMEMagazine. This area of the Herbal Super Site will
explore ideas and practises surrounding ancient and modern day herbalism,
as a safe and effective health therapy.
Blueberries for Boomers: A Cup A Day
May Keep Memory Loss Away
Lately, we have all heard the words
"nutracuticals and phytochemicals" used more often with common references
to the health benefits of consuming fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Blueberries are another example of how the gap between "herbs" and "fruits
and vegetables" is closing in around the nutritional value of plant based
foods in general.
Some "fruits and vegetables" have
been long associated with some medicinal benefits such as oranges with
vitamin C for colds, and carrots to help you see better, well you can now
add blueberries to that list to help you with memory loss!
ARS News - Blueberries are increasingly
popular as more consumers reach for the fruit that's high in antioxidants
and long on taste. Antioxidants shield cells from the plundering effects
of free radicals. These rogue molecules corrupt healthy cells—a process
that ultimately underlies cellular aging. With such high-stakes health
benefits, it's no wonder blueberries have become a media darling among the
Blueberries are among the fruits and
vegetables highest in antioxidant capacity, according to tests developed
by ARS, says Ronald L. Prior, chemist with the Arkansas Children's
Nutrition Center in Little Rock.
Preliminary research in rats shows
blueberries may also improve cognitive function—a term scientists use for
mental capacities, such as memory and concentration.
"Our research on aging shows that
blueberry supplementation at about 1 to 2 percent of the diet may reverse
short-term memory loss and improve motor skills," says James A. Joseph,
physiologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on
Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Consumption has never been higher.
More cultivated fresh blueberries and more frozen wild ones were consumed
or purchased through U.S. supermarkets last year than ever before,
according to industry experts. U.S. growers produce about 350 million
pounds of blueberries worth between $187 million and $260 million
Blueberry's powerful nutritional
punch is likely due to the fact that its antioxidants come in the form of
both long-established vitamins and newly defined phytochemicals. The
berries are particularly well endowed with a series of phytochemicals
called anthocyanins—the source of their blue, purple, and red pigments—and
Also, blueberry is one of the few
fruits that contain so wide a spectrum of anthocyanins, which fall within
a phytochemical class called flavonoids. Another class, carotenoids, makes
carrots and pumpkins orange.
Naturally, the amount of nutrients in
any crop may differ among varieties or because of growing conditions, such
as geographic location and soil content. Still, while many fruits contain
only about 3 to 6 individual anthocyanins, various cultivated blueberries
contain about 15 on the low end, rising to about 25 in wild blueberries,
In test tubes, these anthocyanins
yield about 2 to 2.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin C. The next
step, now under way, is to assess the bioavailability of these antioxidant
heavyweights. Bioavailability refers to how well the body digests, uses,
and stores a given chemical. Stay tuned.—By Rosalie Marion Bliss,
Spices Hike Your Antioxidant
ounce, many herbs used to flavour our foods are proving to have
Oxidative damage to cells is thought
to culminate in the onset of several maladies associated with aging. But
foods that score high in antioxidant capacity may protect cells and their
components from such damage. While berries, fruits, and vegetables are
known to have antioxidant power, many herbs used to flavor our foods are
proving to have more, ounce for ounce. But their potency can vary,
depending on species and growing conditions.
Now, a variety of fresh culinary and
medicinal herbs has been grown under the same environmental conditions, at
the same location, and evaluated for antioxidative activity. They've been
measured for their ability to disarm oxidizing compounds that our bodies
naturally generate as a byproduct of metabolism. Three different types of
oregano—Mexican, Italian, and Greek mountain—scored the highest, even
higher than vitamin E. Also, they were comparable to the food preservative
BHA against fat oxidations. Sweet bay, dill, and winter savory also showed
strong antioxidant activity. Medicinal herbs generally scored lower in
antioxidant activity, suggesting that their health benefits stem from
other types of activity in the body.
Shiow Wang, USDA-ARS Fruit
Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
Study Released Shows St. John's Wort Hampers
A study lead by Dr. Ron Mathijssen of
the Rotterdam Cancer Institute showed that taking St. John's wort while
receiving the chemotherapeutic drug Irinotecan drastically reduced the
effectiveness of the treatment in cancer patients and the effects
continued for several weeks even after the patients stopped taking the
herbal supplement. The study however, was only conducted on 5
patients and researchers now feel that it would be unethical based on
these findings to conduct the same study on a larger group. Medical
oncologists recommend that all patients tell their doctors what herbal
supplements they are taking. The results of the study were represented to
the American Association for Cancer Research this year.
Get out the Cauldron for some Iron Brew
Herbal vinegars are flavourful and
add zip to many recipes. But wouldn't it be great to add more iron to your
meals at the same time? HERBSatHOME readers will be glad to hear about
this latest report, just in time for All Hallow's Eve, as you are dusting
off the cauldron! Herbal vinegars are used in stir fries, sauces, soups
and much more and you will be reaching for the iron skillet when you read
the following report from ARS Research News.
Cooking with iron pots may
help prevent iron deficiency, according to a joint study by Cornell
University and Agricultural Research Service scientists. They compared
the bioavailability of iron in Chinese cabbage meals cooked in pots made
of iron and aluminum.
The study was conducted at the ARS
U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory on Cornell's Ithaca, N.Y.,
campus by graduate student Shumei Yun and epidemiologist Jean-Pierre
Habicht of the university's Division of Nutritional
They cooked three Chinese cabbage
dishes--fresh Chinese cabbage, fresh Chinese cabbage with vinegar, and
fermented Chinese cabbage (sauerkraut)--identically in iron and aluminum
pots, following a common recipe from northwest China.
They concluded that in each case,
cabbage dishes cooked in iron pots had more available iron than those
cooked in aluminum ones.
The type of food being cooked also
seemed to affect the pots' iron. Vinegar or acidic foods such as
sauerkraut appeared to leach more iron from the pots, making more iron
available for absorption.
To measure the bioavailable iron,
the researchers used the ARS lab's revolutionary "fake gut." Coupling
simulated digestion with a human intestinal cell line, it is the first
system to accurately model in the laboratory what occurs in the human
intestinal tract. Raymond Glahn, the ARS physiologist who designed the
model system, was a collaborator in this study. Information about the
"fake gut" appeared in the August '99 Agricultural Research magazine,
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
The researchers were drawn to
recipes from northwestern China by surveys that showed significantly
lower rates of iron deficiency in resource-poor regions there, in
comparison to similar regions elsewhere in the country. Plant-based
diets that include lots of rice vinegar and sauerkraut cooked in iron
pots are common in the region.
Iron deficiency anemia, the most
serious form of iron deficiency, is among the developing world's most
prevalent nutritional problems. It is associated with reduced capacity
for physical labor and can lead to illness and
requests recall of certain products containing
OTTAWA- Health Canada is requesting a
recall from the market of certain products containing Ephedra/ephedrine
after a risk assessment concluded that these products pose a serious risk
to health. Adverse events including stroke, heart attacks, heart rate
irregularities, seizures, psychoses and deaths have been reported in
association with the use of some products containing Ephedra/ephedrine.
Ephedra refers to several related species of herbs. Ephedrine is one of
many chemical derivatives of this herb.
This voluntary recall deals with
products that are marketed without approval. These include:
· Ephedra/ephedrine products having
a dose unit of more than 8 mg of ephedrine or with a label recommending
more than 8 mg/dose or 32 mg/day and/or are labelled or implied for use
exceeding seven days;
· all combination products containing
Ephedra/ephedrine together with stimulants (e.g. caffeine) and other
ingredients which might increase the effect of Ephedra/ephedrine in the
body. A full table of ingredients containing caffeine is attached to this
· Ephedra/ephedrine products with
labelled or implied claims for appetite suppression, weight loss
promotion, metabolic enhancement, increased exercise tolerance,
body-building effects, euphoria, increased energy or wakefulness, or other
Health Canada advises those Canadians
who may be consuming these products to stop using them, and return them to
their points of sale. Canadians suffering from heart conditions, high
blood pressure and diabetes are among those particularly at
Currently, the maximum allowable
dosages for Ephedra/ephedrine in products is 8 mg ephedrine/single dose or
32mg ephedrine/day. Products containing Ephedra which are marketed for
traditional medicine, will continue to be available, provided they do not
contain caffeine and that the ephedrine content does not exceed 8 mg/dose
to a maximum of 32 mg/day.
If a consumer has concerns about a
product with a Drug Identification Number (DIN), and is not sure if the
recommended dosage exceeds the 32 mg ephedrine/day dose limit, they should
consult with their pharmacist. Consumers who identify remaining products
on the shelves can call their regional Health Canada offices to report
complaints. Their contact information is provided as an
Health Canada is issuing letters to
Canadian manufacturers, distributors and importers requesting that they
discontinue sale of these products and that the products be recalled from
all levels of the market, including retail. A customs lookout has also
been issued, to ensure that these products are not imported into
A health advisory was issued by
Health Canada in June of last year, advising Canadians not to use products
containing the herb Ephedra, in combination with caffeine and other
stimulants, for purposes of weight loss, body building or increased
energy. At the time of that advisory, 60 adverse events had been reported
in Canada related to the use of Ephedra/ephedrine. Since then, a product
which combined large doses of ephedrine with caffeine has been reported as
a contributing factor in one death in Canada.
Health Canada will be issuing a
regulatory letter to manufacturers of products which exceed this
recommended dosage. Products with DINs that are being sold as nasal
decongestants and have doses equal to or less than the upper limits of 8
mg ephedrine/dose and 32 mg ephedrine/day will continue to be
Health Canada will continue to
monitor reports of adverse events associated with Ephedra/ephedrine, and
will take further action if necessary. A random market survey will be
undertaken within 6 months of the requested recall to determine whether
these products have found their way back onto the Canadian market.
Non-compliant products will be removed from the shelves.
Health Canada is advising
consumers not to use any products containing kava
OTTAWA - Health Canada is advising
consumers not to use any products that contain the herbal ingredient kava
(also known as kava-kava), with or without drug identification numbers
(DINs), in light of recent reports of liver toxicity related to use of
kava products in Europe. Kava is found in herbal and homeopathic
preparations, and marketed to treat anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, pain
and muscle tension. It may also be found as an ingredient in food
products. It is widely used in Europe, and has become increasingly used in
been at least 24 reports of liver toxicity associated with the use of kava
products internationally, including one reported death, and several cases
which required liver transplantation. However, no cases of liver toxicity
have been reported in Canada. Like Health Canada, other international
regulatory agencies (Germany, France, Switzerland, U.K., U.S.A.) are
taking steps to prevent liver-related risks associated with the use of
As a result of these international
reports, Health Canada is now reviewing the safety and effectiveness of
kava. To ensure the safety and health of consumers in the interim, Health
Canada is issuing this advisory, advising consumers not to use any
products which contain kava until the safety assessment can be completed.
Once the safety assessment is completed, and all international safety data
are analyzed, Health Canada will communicate the results to the public,
and take further action if required.
Consumers are advised to check the
labels of any herbal products for the presence of kava, and to discontinue
use of any product labelled to contain kava.
Kava may be identified by the following
rhizoma di kava-kava · ava
· ava pepper
· ava root
· intoxicating pepper
· long pepper
· Piper methysticum
Piper inebrians · Malohu
Consumers are also advised to consult
with their health care practitioner if they have experienced any adverse
effects from taking products containing kava. The following symptoms may
be associated with liver problems:
· jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of
· stomach or abdominal pain, and /or
· loss of appetite.
Additionally, health care
professionals and practitioners of alternative medicine are being asked to
report any cases of liver toxicity in association with use of