Turmeric May Fight Drug Resistant Malaria

December 17, 2004

Recently studies have shown the powerful protective ability Turmeric has in the brain. It is often used for arthritic inflammation, liver health, and as a mild aid to balancing cholesterol. It has a number of activities in inhibiting the cancer process. Turmeric owes much of its antioxidant activity to its powerful constituent Curcumin.

Malaria remains a major global health concern. It is the most common and most deadly parasitic infection in the world. Every year 300,000,000 to 500,000,000 people have a malaria attack. The most vicious malaria parasite is Plasmodium falciparum, about 3% of the unfortunates with this strain die from an attack.

Formerly quinine was developed from the bark of the cinchona tree. Quinine was a cheap and effective treatment for malaria. When chloroquine, a synthetic version of quinine was developed, it replaced the natural product. Chloroquine is a cheap, safe, and until recently, effective drug treatment for malaria. Unfortunately strains of malaria have developed in South America, Asia, and Africa over the past two decades that are resistant to chloroquine. New, inexpensive, and effective antimalarial agents are urgently needed.

In this study Curcumin, the active ingredients in Turmeric inhibited the growth of chloroquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum, and the larger the amount of curcumin the better it worked. Additionally, when the researchers gave the curcumin by mouth to laboratory animals infected with malaria (Plasmodium berghei) it reduced the number of parasites in the blood of the animals by 80% to 90% and increased the length of time they survived significantly. The research was conducted at the Deprtment of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mi., and is published in the January 14, 2005 issue of the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research.

L-Carnosine May Help Prevent Diabetes

Our muscles create L-Carnosine but until recently researchers did not understand the activities of L-Carnosine in the muscle. As it turns out, L-Carnosine has many very important functions. A recent study by these researchers showed that L-Carnosine reduced hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar) caused by injecting sugar into mice. In this follow up study the researchers state that L-Carnosine is released from the muscles after exercise. Part of its function is to reduce blood sugar due to its effect on the autonomic nervous system. Controlling blood sugar in this way improves insulin sensitivity and may help decrease metabolic syndrome. The research was conducted at the Division of Protin Metabolism, Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan, and is published in the November 2003 issue of the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Commonly Used Pesticide Causes Lung Cancer, Resveratrol is Protective

Organphosphate chemicals were developed by the German military as chemical warfare agents during WWII. They caused neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system including the brain). Sarin nerve gas is an organophosphate. Recently controversy has arisen over the intensive spraying of Central Park in New York City with the organophosphate Chlorpyrifos, to control mosquito populations that may harbor West Nile virus.

About 24,000,000 pounds of Chlorpyrifos, is used annually in the USA. Chlorpyrifos is not restricted and is one of the most widly used pesticides. It is sprayed on mosquitoes and termites, on lawns, farms, golf courses and parks. It is used on ornamental shrubs, on pet collars and on cattle eartags - it is everywhere and it is dangerous. It is applied in many ways including by crop dusting planes, dragged across the soil by tractors and released as granules, or sprayed in the home or garden with hand held sprays. Chlorpyrifos overstimulates the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, even respiratory paralysis and death with extreme exposure. It is used on many foods including bananas, peanuts, alfalfa, beans, asparagus, corn, onions, peppes, almonds, figs, pears, cherries, and on cash crops including cotton, sugar, and tobacco. Recently the manufacturers of Chlorpyrifos voluntarily have tried to restrict its use on tomatoes, grapes, and apples.

There have been reports of very high levels of contamination with Chlorpyrifos when it is used for temites, it can seep into local fresh water. There is also a generally high risk of contamination to birds, fish, and mammals.

In this study researchers evaluated any connection between Chlorpyrifos exposure and cancer in 54,387 applicators in the Agriculture Health Study. After adjusting for exposure to other pesticides and lifestyle factors, people with the greatest exposure to Chlorpyrifos had a large increase in the risk of lung cancer. The researchers from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health published their study in the December 1, 2004 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Chlorpyrifos is only one of the commonly used organophosphate pesticides. It is considered to be moderately toxic. We release an enzyme known as paraoxonase-1 (PON1). The PON1 enzyme is an antioxidant that works with HDL to protect our blood vessels from LDL-cholesterol. PON1 is also the detoxification enzyme for organophosphate pesticides and has shown protective activity against pesticides and nerve agents. According to the most recent research appearing in the December 24th, 2004 issue of the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, Resveratrol stimulates an increase in PON1 levels and it is a protective agent against this family of pesticides.

C-Reactive Protein Causes Coronary Heart Disease

C-reactive protein is made in the liver and released in response to inflammation. In this study Harvard researchers followed both men and women who were free of cardiovascular disease in the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow Up Study for 8 years with a six year follow-up. Both high cholesterol levels and elevated C-reactive protein increased the risk of developing coronary heart disease in both sexes (cholesterol was worse than C-reactive protein). The study is published in the December 16th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

A recent study compared a good diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat, versus the same diet plus a statin-cholesterol lowering drug, versus a diet high in plant phytosterols, soy protein, fiber, and almonds. The good diet plus statin drug lowered cholesterol and C-reactive protein much more than just a good diet alone. The diet rich in plant phytosterols, soy protein, fiber, and almonds was increadibly effective, almost as well as a good diet plus a statin drug (but without drug toxicity). Red Yeast Rice is very good at lowering C-reactive protein and cholesterol. A mixed complex of vitamin E in conjunction with CoenzymeQ10 reduces C-reactive protein, so does vitamin C.