Herbal Medicine and Health Research – April 2014

This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

1. Statins have been in the news a lot in the last month but this particular quote from Dr Rita Redberg, Director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, really summed it up for me.

 “In my practice, I believe that the evidence supports the use of statins for secondary prevention, and I tend to follow those guidelines. For primary prevention, I don’t think that the data show that the benefits outweigh the risks.

I believe for primary prevention, we are talking about healthy people. Healthy people are those who feel well even if they have risk factors. Many people have risk factors for heart disease, but when I read the data, I think the best way to prevent heart disease in healthy people is to help them develop a healthy lifestyle, including a Mediterranean-style diet and regular exercise. I am very aggressive at every visit in reminding people of the importance of exercise. I think it is the best medicine in terms of reducing heart disease risk, prolonging life, and improving quality of life — which is a winning combination — along with not smoking.”

2. A new study in the USA has found an increased risk of Ovarian cancer in women with endometriosis, however the study looked at specific groups of women with endometriosis which could lead to bias in the study. More on endometriosis in my next blog.

3. A small UK study found that lavender essential oil diffused at night in a care home aided sleep and relaxation in patients with dementia.

4. Many people are concerned with drug side effects but often taken NSAID (non steroidal anti- inflammatory) such as aspirin and paracetamol without realising the damage they can do to liver, kidneys and stomach lining when taken regularly. A US analysis just finished which showed that the 7 million people surveyed took at least one NSAID type drug.

5. With an increase in the legalisation of medical marijuana in the USA, a new survey of Drs said they would welcome the legalisation and would recommend it to patients.

6. A new study has shown that artichoke extract has a beneficial effect on balancing blood sugar levels.