Butter and Walnuts Increase Vascular Inflammation, Olive Oil Doesn't

January 04, 2005

A monocyte is a large immune system cell that patrols the blood stream for invading bacteria. Monocytes and other immune system cells often work by releasing chemical messengers that trigger immune system activity and the release of oxidizing chemical agents. This is a desirable activity useful for protecting us from cancer and infection, however when the process is out of control and these immune system -chemical warfare agents are constantly released it can lead to cell damage and disease because of the resultant chronic inflammation.

A major chemical messenger released from monocytes is NF-Kappa-B. This immune system chemical is a major part of the inflammatory process causing plaque to build up in the arteries. Circulating blood fat after a meal directly affects the release of NF-Kappa-B. In this study different fats were tested to see if they increased levels of NF-Kappa-B after a meal. Healthy men consumed meals that included particular fats - olive oil, walnuts, or Butter. Both butter and walnuts caused the release of NF-Kappa-B, but olive oil did not cause the release of this potentially artery clogging factor. The study was published in the December 2004 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Astragalus Improves Immune Function in Patients with Herpes Eye Infections

The immune system has a balance between activity and control; it is referred to as the TH1 - TH2 balance. For the immune system to fight infection, protect us from cancer, and not instead promote allergies and disease, there must be a balance between these parts of immune function.

In patients with herpes simplex keratitis, or herpes infection of the eye, there is often immune system imbalance. In this study of 106 patients with herpes eye infections versus 60 healthy adults, it was found that the TH2 activity was significantly higher and the TH1 was significantly lower than those who were healthy. Low TH1 activity means you cannot effectively fight the viral infection. All patients were put on either ribavirin, an anti-viral agent, or Astragalus. Astragalus improved TH1 activity and helped improve the immune system balance. This is important news for herpes simplex keratitis sufferers. The study was published in February 2004 and was performed at the Department of ophthalmology, College of Applied Science and Technology, Chongqing University of Medical Sciences.