By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter 2 hours, 8 minutes ago
THURSDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Capsaicin, the component that gives jalapeno peppers their heat, may also kill prostate cancer cells, a new study suggests.
Initial experiments in cancer cells and mice show that capsaicin causes prostate cancer cells to undergo a kind of suicide. Researchers speculate that, in the future, pills containing capsaicin might be used as therapy to prevent prostate cancer's return.
According to their report, capsaicin caused almost 80 percent of prostate cancer cells in the mice to die. In addition, prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in untreated mice.
"Capsaicin inhibits the growth of human prostate cancer cell in Petri dishes and mice," said lead researcher Dr. H. Phillip Koeffler, director of hematology and oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Based on the findings, Koeffler believe the next step is a trial to see if it works in patients with prostate cancer.
The report appears in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.
Capsaicin probably has several effects, Koeffler said. Most noticeable is its effect in blocking NF-kappa Beta, a molecular mechanism that promotes cancer cell growth, he noted.
In addition, capsaicin also was effective against leukemia, and might be effective in slowing or preventing the growth of other cancers as well, he added.
But it's still too early to reach for the chili sauce, Koeffler said.
"I am not recommending that people increase their consumption of peppers," he said. "Our calculation is that you would have to eat 10 habanera peppers three times a week, which would be equivalent to the amount of capsaicin we gave to the mice."
The researcher believes capsaicin could someday gain a place in adjuvant prostate cancer therapy. For example, it might be used after prostate surgery to kill cancer cells in patients whose blood PSA levels start to rise, indicating the presence of tumors too small to be seen, he said.
The study does highlight the crossover that can occur between conventional and alternative therapies. "We should take note of herbal medicines and then use modern-day techniques to find what the active compounds are and bring them into clinical trials," Koeffler said.
One expert thinks it's too early to know if capsaicin will ever be an effective prostate cancer treatment, however.
"Since large amounts of capsaicin have never been given to people, we don't know what the side effects might be," cautioned Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the
American Cancer Society. "We don't know about the right dose or anything."
Lichtenfeld believes that any trial should be done in patients who are not responsive to other standard therapies. "We are ways away from a clinical trial," he said. "We need more basic research before we start treating patients."
Another expert concurred.
"This study does not prove that capsaicin will prove effective in the treatment of prostate cancer in humans," said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "Nor does it tell us that eating peppers rich in the substance will help prevent such cancer, or forestall its growth. But it provides a compelling argument for clinical study of capsaicin in human prostate cancer to put these questions to the test."
"This paper should serve to remind us that herbal remedies and pharmacotherapy are often of common origins, differing only in our capacity to identify, purify and package the active ingredients," Katz said. "This work suggests that the conventional medical community should turn a discriminating eye, rather than a jaded eye, toward time-honored herbal treatments. Many will doubtless prove ineffective when put to the test of high-quality research. But some will pass that test, and we must meticulously distinguish between them."
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Ramdev gives spiritual vibes to Nobel chemist </b>
Yoga Rangatia/ New Delhi
Is spirituality a higher science? A scientist, who calls himself an atheist, after reflection will probably say there might be unexplained "psychosomatic control over bio-physiology process."Â Â
A yoga guru, who views much of modern medicine with cynicism and equates the drug industry with the weapons mafia, has probably pondered over the laws of physics and extols the scientist to search beyond "matter" that they have defined as nano-particles and look for the undefined link between 'matter' and 'energy'.
Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto and Baba Ramdev interfaced at a knowledge summit organised by ASSOCHAM on Monday evening which discussed the future of nanotechnology and biotechnology. They touched common ground on nano-science (in the realm of atom-sized substances), although they approached the problem from opposite ends. Sir Kroto sees a huge potential for nano (tiniest) particles in health application, which will some day deliver drugs to the specific site. Ramdev told the scientist that the tinniest particle for curing human ailments had already been provided by nature in abundance - Oxygen. "Pranayam (breathing exercise) only uses this molecule to cleanse every cell and energise it. Isn't that nanotechnology application at its best," Ramdev asked the scientist.
The chemist and the yoga exponent also agreed on the need for spirituality to rid the world of corruption and fanaticism.<b> "Spirituality has been hijacked by some religious leaders. I believe there is spirituality even in atheism. We need to believe more in humanism," Sir Kroto said.</b>
Ramdev felt yoga, too, could bring order in everyone's lives. "One who practices yoga and pranayam will not be attracted to greed, violence or religious fanaticism," the swami said.
Baba Ramdev was critical of the nexus between the medical community and the pharmaceutical company to "sustain drug dependence" instead of curing patients. "The human body is self-sufficient in treating itself. The chemicals and hormones needed to bring balance in our lives are within us. If there is disease in the body, there is immunity as well and also treatment," he said. Pranayam, according to him, can treat anything from depression and anxiety to lower cholesterol and even fight diabetes and obesity. "Drug companies are looting people in the name of curing them," he thundered at a gathering of industrialists, many of them from the pharmaceuticals sector.
A strong believer in preventive medicine, he displayed his rustic wisdom when he calculated that the diabetic patients in the country spend as much as Rs 100 crore per day on drugs. "And they are dependent on drugs for a life time, when these diseases can be prevented," he said.
But the sceptical scientist wanted more evidence that traditional wisdom actually works.<b> "Science is observation, developing a theory that will be able to predict (a certain outcome). And it is difficult to falsify." Sir Kroto said. The yoga guru now wants to dedicate his attention to providing the proof that science is seeking.</b>
<b>Yoga helps cancer patients: Study</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Women going through treatment for breast cancer felt better when they tried yoga, according to one of the first scientific studies of its kind.
"Our belief is something as simple and brief as a short (yoga) programme would be very useful" at combating side effects from cancer treatment, said Lorenzo Cohen, a psychologist who led the pilot study.
Yoga incorporates meditation, relaxation, imagery, controlled breathing, stretching and physical movements. Although the study was small and preliminary, it's one of the few to try to rigorously measure the benefits of this form of exercise, Cohen said.
Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre focused on 61 women who had surgery for breast cancer and now were getting six weeks of radiation treatment. Thirty women were assigned to a test group that took twice-a-week yoga classes. The others did not.
At the end of six weeks, study participants filled out detailed questionnaires grading their ability to lift groceries, walk 1.6 kilometres and perform other physical activities. They also were asked about feelings of fatigue and their sense of well-being.
Their scores were converted to a scale that ranged from 0 to 100. The researchers found the yoga group consistently had higher scores in almost every area. It was most pronounced in physical function -- the yoga group had a mean score of about 82, compared with 69 for the other group.
Participants said they were in better general health, were less fatigued and had fewer problems with daytime sleepiness.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
But India wants to stop them on that path, cold. It's now databasing millions of pages of ancient cures for patent officers to peruse. The project is called the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.Â <!--emo&:rocker--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rocker.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rocker.gif' /><!--endemo-->
In a roomful of computers cooled by powerful air conditioning, workers are databasing ancient texts, including pictures of yoga positions. Yoga is a $3 billion industry in the US, and somebody once tried to patent yoga, too.
Dr. Jaya Saklani Kala painstakingly types ayurvedic remedies thousand of years old into her computer in alphanumeric code.
DR. JAYA SAKLANI KALA: This is code for saliva, forehead, honey, antiseptic wound cleansing. This is aphrodisiac. We need a code for everything.
The database's software gives each plant and phrase a code. It then converts the information from Hindi, Farsi, Arabic or Sanskrit into English, French, German, Spanish or Japanese. Kala says helping patent officers search the database in their own languages will protect India's wealth of knowledge.
<!--emo&--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> c how v have become vestigial?
Maggots and Leeches: Old Medicine is New
By Ker Than
Special to LiveScience
posted: 19 April 2005
06:46 am ET
Pam Mitchell knew the maggots were working when her foot started bleeding.
Four years ago, a small cut on Mitchell's left heel turned into an diabetes-related infection two inches wide and down to the bone. Another wound developed in her right foot, owing to dry, cracked skin. Doctors tried everythingâcreams, antibioticsâbut nothing worked.
"My doctor told me to give it up, see a psychologist, and have my foot amputated," she recalls.
Mitchell, now 52, had to make a decision soon because the powerful antibiotic that doctors prescribed for her infection was also wreaking havoc on her bones. Mitchell was preparing to undergo a dangerous bone marrow transplant when a friend remembered watching a TV show about European doctors using maggots to treat wounds like Mitchell's. With nothing to lose, she tried it.
Pam Mitchell in happier times, post-treatment.
Mitchell found a dermatologist willing to perform the procedure, and soon had 600 live maggots wriggling inside the wound on her left foot, 400 in her right, where they were sealed in gauze and left for two days.
When it came time to remove the maggots, Mitchell's doctor was more than a little repulsed. "He had never dealt with them before and he said it was like watching a Wes Craven movie," Mitchell remembers. He was also impressed, because the maggot treatment seemed to be working.
Over the course of 10 such treatments, wounds that months of expensive procedures could not mend began to heal.
Today, Mitchell walks normally and both wounds are completely healed. She is now a member of the board for the Biotherapeutics Education and Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the medical use of maggots.
"They didn't just save my feet, they saved my life," Mitchell told LiveScience. "They're better than anything man can come up with because I've tried everything."
What a Leech!
The medicinal leech is a segmented worm related to the earthworm. A rear suction cup helps it move and cling to a host. The front suction cup has three sharp jaws that make a Y-shaped bite.
It can feed for 30 minutes to 6 hours or more, taking in several times its body weight.
Leech saliva contains chemicals that prevent blood clotting, so a wound might bleed for hours after the leech is removed. Depending on wound size, a doctor might apply anywhere from one to six leeches. Medical-grade leeches are sold by Leeches U.S.A. Ltd. and Biopharm Leeches.
SOURCE: Biotherapeutics Education and Research Foundation
A growing number of doctors are starting to agree. Maggots are useful because they help remove dead tissue and expose healthy tissue, a process called debridement. Maggot debridement therapy was popular in the early part of the last century but went out of vogue when antibiotic use became widespread.
But maggots are now making a comeback, and they are increasingly being used to treat ulcers, gangrene, skin cancer, and burns. Research also suggests maggots may help decrease the risks of infections after surgery.
Maggot therapy is just one example of a medical approach called biotherapy -- the use of living animals to aid in medical diagnosis or treatment. Leeches are another example.
In ancient times, leeches were used to treat everything from headaches to ear infections to hemorrhoids. Historians think Egyptians used leech therapy 3,500 years ago. The treatments were back in vogue during the Middle Ages, and again in the 1800s.
Nowadays, leeches are routinely used to drain blood from swollen faces, limbs and digits after reconstructive surgery.
They are especially useful when reattaching small parts that contain many blood vessels, like ears, where blood clots can easily form in veins that normally drain blood from tissues. If the clots are severe, the tissues can die -- drowned in the body's own fluid -- because they are deprived of oxygen and other vital nutrients.
Scientists are also looking at using leeches to treat other ailments. Studies led by Andreas Michalsen, a researcher at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, suggests leech therapy may lessen the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, a debilitating disease where bones can grind against one another because the cartilage has been worn down.
The gross factor
Maggots and leeches are so effective that the FDA last year classified them as the first live medical devices. The treatments can be relatively inexpensive, according to the National Institutes of Health. A container of 500-1,000 disinfected maggots last year cost $70.
Scientists have not figured out exactly how either critter works, but quite a bit is known. Maggots eat dead and infected tissue and other infectious organisms, which are later killed in maggots' guts. They secrete enzymes that break down dead tissue, turning it into a mush they can then slurp up.
Leech saliva is made up of a potent cocktail of more than 30 different proteins that, among other things, helps to numb pain, reduce swelling and keep blood flowing.
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Michalsen said his patients are rarely repulsed by the leeches and instead take a morbid interest in the creatures. "They feel sympathy for the leeches," he said.
Pam Mitchell expressed a similar sentiment about the maggots that saved her life. "When I first saw them, I didn't want anything to do with them." But they sort of grew on her. Maybe those that roam household garbage are gross, she concedes. "Otherwise, I just see them as being different."
Ayurveda gives Alzheimer's hope
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Researchers from King's College, London and Jadavpur University in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, studied five plants commonly used in ayurvedic medicine.
They found that the plants acted to prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters, improving memory and concentration in people with Alzheimer's disease - the most common form of dementia.
The scientists are now trying to identify the chemical compounds responsible so they can be used to develop more effective drugs
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Swami Ramdev: The Zooming Guru</b>
Source: The Week
Imagine the collective ujjain of 25 crore people in synchronisation. Breathe in... hold, 2, 3, 4... breathe outâthe opening regime of pranayama. One out of four Indian lungs inhaling and exhaling the elixir of life; 10 crore of them in their drawing rooms, same time, same place, every day between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., when the saffron-clothed, sandal-clad Guru Ramdev of Haridwar, Uttaranchal, comes on air on Aastha TV.
Not since fitness guru Jane Fonda lured people to their exercise mats for aerobic workouts in the 80s has there been a cult following to maintain fitness and health. Or so, claims the ashramâthe Divya Yog Trustâfounded by the 30-something-40-looking guru, who lives on a staple diet of fruits and milk, while occasionally relishing bitter gourd or cucumber. He can drive a two-wheeler but doesnât mind riding pillion, either. His sermons are splattered with jokes, he touts cow urine therapy and cold-shoulders MNCs.
Obviously the âpackageâ has worked; in 10 years he has penetrated north India and is invading south. Last year he held four camps in Karnataka, Chennai and Kerala.
The guru courts politicians, celebrities, the rich, the poor, the sick... even couch potatoes and Netizens. Hereâs a blog entry: âThis summer vacation, I happened to watch Aastha TV. My uncle does yoga daily and advised me to try it. He said, "All these thousands of people in camps must not be stupid. There must be something in yoga".â
That is the winning word. Ramdev reaches millions with his âyoga made easy approachâ using 21st centuryâs technological ammunitionâcassettes, CDs, books, television, the Netâin his vast outreach programme. The ashram, from where he runs his extensive empire (rough estimates put its worth at Rs 100 crore), combines the ancient science of yoga and Ayurveda with modern medical science. The trust receives 1,000 phone calls every day through 12 telephones. Around 1,400 letters and emails pour in each day. The phone calls, letters and emails are individual cries for cures of various lifestyle ailments. The trust spends about Rs 2 lakh on âpostal therapyâ (replying to the queries posed by patients) every month. The long-distance medical counselling is free of cost. At its out-patient department, 40 doctors treat 2,000 patients every day, throughout the year.
Ramdev started relentless efforts to popularise yoga in 1995, along with Acharya Karamveer and Acharya Balkrishna. While Karamveer is well-versed in yoga and the Vedas, Balkrishna is a physician with a degree in Ayurveda. "This site was originally a neglected orchard," says Ramdev. "We had to fell a tree, which was an abode of ghosts, and from the wood we made 50 cots for the ashram in Kankhal, Haridwar." Ramdev became the president of the trust, Karamveer the deputy president and Balkrishna the general secretary. The objective of the trust was to reach yoga in every part of the country and cure as many patients as possible.
That goal with Ramdevâs healthy cocktail of yogic exercise and Ayurveda medicines marked the meteoric rise of an ordinary man to a revered guru. The amazing thing is that he has touched the educated as well, including luminaries like former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh sing his praises. "The four chief ministers plan to introduce yoga as a compulsory subject in schools," says Balkrishna. The trust has even held a camp in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Educated professionals are also backing him. Engineer Nitin Barve, 35, is up at half past five on Sunday mornings to do pranayama. He attended a camp in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, a year ago, and learnt various breathing techniques. Since then, he has not missed a single day of the 20-minute pranayama. "I lost 7kg in the first three months," he says. Now, why would someone with no ailments take to the guruâs teachings? "Ramdev never talked about religion during the 7-day course. He did not promise that only his path would lead to salvation. He spoke to us about good health and well-being and told us how to go about it," says Barve. The guruâs teachings have increased his stamina; he no longer feels tired after a dayâs work.
Dr Anuj Bhatnagar, 24, an intern at a Ghaziabad hospital, was suffering from hypertension and was asked to lose weight. A friend told him about the guruâs exercises. He learnt them and in two weeks he lost 4.5kg. "Being in the medical profession, I thought what he taught was rubbish," says Bhatnagar. "I just followed the exercises and never took the medicines he prescribed. And it was fantastic. Before the exercises, I used to do brisk-walking. It didnât help. I can now understand why people are following him."
There are grey areas surrounding the guruâs educational background; the literature of the trust does not shed light on it, either. It is said that he travelled the Himalayas for several years before he settled in Haridwar. He discovered several medicinal plants in the Himalayas which he uses in treating his patients. Apart from reeking the benefits of cowâs urine and manure.
Ramdev was born as Ramkishan at Alipur, in Mahendragarh district of Haryana; he studied up to Class 8 in Shahjadpur and then joined a gurukul in Khanpur village to learn Sanskrit. From there he went to Jind district and joined the Kalva gurukul and later imparted free yoga training to villagers across Haryana. His Himalaya odyssey was to do penance and hone his yogic skills.
Apart from the camps, he plans to train 5,000 teachers every month. "If 5,000 teachers teach yoga to a 100 newcomers every month, five lakh people will learn yoga every month and in one year, 60 lakh people. In this way, our mission for yoga to be practised in every home in India will be achieved," says Balkrishna.
Ramdevâs influence has extended across the country thanks to his programmes on television and the guru is the first to acknowledge it. "It is impossible to reach everyone individually," he says. "Television has helped me a lot." To lend more credibility to his âyog-scienceâ camps, the guru picks up patients suffering from diabetes, blood pressure, cardiac ailments, obesity and cancer and puts them through pathological tests done by allopathic doctors before and after the camp. At a camp held in Haridwar in technical collaboration with the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, and Trans Asia Bio Medical, 2,000 patients were tested this way. Dr R.K. Gupta, head of the department of pathology at the Sanjay Gandhi Institute, says eight tests were conducted on each of the 2,000 patients for their profiles. The exercise was to prove a point to sceptics. "I get these tests done to avoid allegations against me," says the guru. "Tomorrow, people should not raise their finger against me and say I fooled them."
The guru has a strong agenda against MNCs and their products and says "cold drinks are virtually poison" which can cause cancer, diabetes, impotency and heart disease. "A glass of butter milk or a cup of tulsi tea has much more nutritional and medicinal value," he says. Many, who attended the Haridwar camps vouch for his remedies. Dr N.K. Singh, who had cataract, followed Ramdevâs diet and exercise regime for a year and it disappeared. Sameer Srivastava tried all types of medicines to reduce his hypertension. "But it made no difference, then I tried muktavati, a drug suggested by Swami Ramdev, and it did wonders," he says. Ramesh, a resident of Delhi, had a backache for 20 years. He went to the guru last year and was cured.
The guru does not attend to the patients; the doctors, mostly BAMS and MDs, treat them using rare medicinal herbs grown in the ashramâs Divya Medicinal Garden. The ashram has a byre with 150 cows to provide milk, dung and urine for preparing and conserving medicines. A farm grows vegetables and foodgrain. The Divya Yog Pharmacy, a research and marketing unit of Ayurvedic medicine, is equipped with sophisticated instruments worth Rs 12 crore. "There is strict quality control right from the collection of raw materials to the end-product," says Dr Viswajit Mukerji, the head of the drug development unit and former managing director of Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation. "Our target is to produce 6 crore tablets a day." Some of the popular drugs made here are muktavati (for hypertension), madhunashinivati (for diabetes), kayakalpvati (for skin diseases) and meghavati (memory enhancer). The details of the drugs, its composition, the manufacturing date, bar code and doses are displayed on bottle labels; tablets come in blister packs. The pharmacy also conducts clinical trials on drugs to study their therapeutic and side-effects.
The Divya Yog Trust, the hospital, the pharmacy, the herbal garden, the cow shed and the yoga camps are managed by an army of workers, all under the aegis of the guru. Yet, he has a dream, a costly one, which is half-way to completion: The Rs 100-crore Patanjali Yog Peeth, a mega-centre at Bhadarabad, 20km from Haridwar, which should fortify his empire. The way heâs going, it shouldnât be long.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--emo&:ind--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/india.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='india.gif' /><!--endemo--> Yoga to be made compulsory subject in TN schools
31 Mar, 2008, 1915 hrs IST, PTI
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu government on Monday announced that yoga would be made a compulsory subject in all schools in the state from the next academic year.
School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu, while replying to a question by Congress member S Sekar in the Assembly, said efforts were already underway for this purpose.
"We have trained about 1.10 lakh teachers in private and government schools in the state, with the help of 300 yoga instructors."
"Chief Minister M Karunanidhi himself is a regular practitioner of yoga and that is a secret of his good health," the Minister said.
Dehra Dun: Baba Ramdev's yog trust has claimed to have found "Sanjivani booti" from Drongiri Parvat in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Describing it as a big achievement, Baba Ramdev thanked the team members led by Acharya Balkrishan, who found the herb following a trek to the hill. Acharya Balkrishan said sanjivani booti has properties of four different herbs like mrita sanjivani, vishalaya karni, sawarn karni and sandhani.