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The proportion of flu and pneumonia related deaths is now slightly above epidemic threshold

For the first time in USA, the Influenza (Flu) season of 2012 – 2013, has become an eipidemic. Which means, there is a good chance either you or somebody you know is sick from the flu. This flu season is unlike the previous year’s mild flu season and totally took the people by surprise.

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January 16, 2013 · 11:03 pm

Natural food anti-fungals

Eating your way to anti-fungal health through Thyme, seaweed, and more may help against the yeast (Candida sp.). There is no research to show that it does or does not have an effect against other fungi. However, good food is never boring!

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  • Good scientific evidence:
  • Zinc: Zinc formulations have been used since ancient Egyptian times to enhance wound healing. Evidence from human trials suggests that zinc pyrithione shampoo may be an effective treatment for tinea versicolor fungal infections of the scalp. Side effects were not noted. Additional research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
  • Zinc is generally considered safe when taken at the recommended dosages. Avoid zinc chloride since studies have not been done on its safety or effectiveness. While zinc appears safe during pregnancy in amounts lower than the established upper intake level, caution should be used since studies cannot rule out the possibility of harm to the fetus.
  • Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence:
  • Bishop’s weed: Limited available human study used 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP), a photoreactive plant compound from bishopsweed, for the treatment of tinea versicolor. Clinical studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
  • Use cautiously in patients with photosensitivity as bishop’s weed may be photoreactive, and cause phototoxic skin damage, phototoxic dermatitis, and pigmentary retinopathy. Use cautiously in patients with bleeding disorders or taking anticoagulants, NSAIDs/anti-platelet agents, or herbs or supplements that increase risk of bleeding because bishop’s weed may have additive effects and increase the risk of bleeding. Use cautiously in patients taking drugs or herbs or supplements metabolized by cytochrome P450 as bishop’s weed may increase the effects of these agents. Use cautiously in patients with eye disorders, as bishop’s weed may cause ocular toxicity. Avoid in patients with known allergy/hypersensitivity to bishop’s weed, its constituents, or members of the Apiaceae family.
  • Bitter orange: Limited available human study found promising results using the oil of bitter orange for treatment of fungal infections. However, due to methodological weakness of this research, further evidence is needed to confirm these results.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to bitter orange or any members of the Rutaceae family. Avoid with heart disease, narrow-angel glaucoma, intestinal colic, or long QT interval syndrome. Avoid if taking anti-adrenergic agents, beta-blockers, QT-interval prolonging drugs, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), stimulants, or honey. Use cautiously with headache, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), or if fair-skinned. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Cinnamon: There is currently a lack of available evidence to support the use of cinnamon for AIDS patients with advanced oral candidiasis. More study is needed in this area.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to cinnamon, its constituents, members of the Lauraceae family, or Balsam of Peru. Use cautiously if prone to atopic reactions or if taking cytochrome P450 metabolized agents, anticoagulants (blood thinners), insulin or blood sugar-altering medications, antibiotics, or cardiovascular agents. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Cranberry: Limited laboratory research has examined the antifungal activity of cranberry. Reliable human studies supporting the use of cranberry for fungal infections are currently lacking. Further research is warranted in this area.
  • Avoid if allergic to cranberries, blueberries, or other plants of the Vaccinium species. Sweetened cranberry juice may affect blood sugar levels. Use cautiously with a history of kidney stones. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid cranberry in higher amounts than what is typically found in foods.
  • Garlic: Garlic is used both medicinally and as a food spice. Several studies describe the use of garlic as a topical antifungal to treat fungal infections of the skin, including yeast infections. More research is needed in this area.
  • Use cautiously as garlic can cause severe burns and rash when applied to the skin of sensitive individuals. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to garlic or other members of the Lilaceae(lily) family (e.g. hyacinth, tulip, onion, leek, or chive). Avoid with a history of bleeding problems, asthma, diabetes, low blood pressure, or thyroid disorders. Stop using supplemental garlic two weeks before and immediately after dental/surgical/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risks. Avoid in supplemental doses if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Pomegranate: In clinical study, an extract of pomegranate was shown to be as effective as a commonly used oral gel when used topically to treat candidiasis associated with denture stomatitis (mouth sores). Additional study is needed to confirm pomegranate’s antifungal effects.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to pomegranate. Avoid with diarrhea or high or low blood pressure. Avoid taking pomegranate fruit husk with oil or fats to treat parasites. Pomegranate root/stem bark should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. Use cautiously with liver damage or liver disease. Pomegranate supplementation may be unsafe during pregnancy when taken by mouth. The bark, root, and fruit rind may cause menstruation or uterine contractions. Avoid if breastfeeding due to a lack of scientific data.
  • Probiotics: Early research suggests that cheese containing probiotics may help reduce the risk of a fungal mouth infection, called thrush, in the elderly. More research is needed in this area.
  • Probiotics are generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to probiotics. Use cautiously if lactose intolerant. Caution is advised when using probiotics in neonates born prematurely or with immune deficiency.
  • Propolis: Propolis is a natural resin created by bees to make their hives. Propolis is made from the buds of conifer and poplar trees and combined with beeswax and other bee secretions. In human study, a commercial propolis ethanol extract from Brazil, formulated to ensure physical and chemical stability, was found to inhibit fungal infections of the mouth, such as oral candidiasis. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to propolis, black poplar (Populas nigra), poplar bud, bee stings, bee products, honey, or Balsam of Peru. Severe allergic reactions have been reported. There has been one report of kidney failure with the ingestion of propolis that improved upon discontinuing therapy and deteriorated with re-exposure. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding because of the high alcohol content in some products.
  • Seaweed, kelp, bladderwrack: Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is a brown seaweed found along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and North and Baltic seas. Another seaweed that grows alongside bladderwrack is Ascophyllum nodosum, andit is often combined with bladderwrack in kelp preparations. Laboratory research suggests that bladderwrack may have antifungal activity. However, reliable human studies to support this use are currently lacking in the available literature.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Fucus vesiculosus or iodine. Avoid with a history of thyroid disease, bleeding, acne, kidney disease, blood clots, nerve disorders, high blood pressure, stroke, or diabetes. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Selenium: Selenium is a mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. Commercially available 1% selenium sulfide shampoo has been reported as equivalent to sporicidal therapy in the adjunctive treatment of the yeast infection tinea capitis. However, further high-quality evidence is warranted.
  • Selenium sulfide shampoo has also been studied as a possible treatment for tinea versicolor. However, research results are inconclusive.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to products containing selenium. Avoid with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer. Selenium is generally regarded as safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, animal research reports that large doses of selenium may lead to birth defects.
  • Tea tree oil: Although tea tree oil has been found to have activity against several fungus species in laboratory study, there is currently insufficient human evidence to determine if it is an effective topical treatment for onychomycosis, tinea pedis (athlete’s foot), or thrush (oral Candida albicans).
  • Tea tree oil may be toxic when taken by mouth and therefore, should not be swallowed. Avoid if allergic to tea tree oil or plants of the Myrtle (Myrtaceae) family, Balsam of Peru, or benzoin. Use cautiously with a history of eczema. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Thyme: Thyme has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Beyond its common culinary application, it has been recommended for many indications based on proposed antimicrobial, antitussive, spasmolytic, and antioxidant activity. Thyme essential oil and thymol have been shown to have antifungal effects. Topical thymol has been used traditionally to treat paronychia (skin infection around a finger or toenail) and onycholysis (fungal nail infection)Currently, there is insufficient reliable human evidence to recommend for or against the use of thyme or thymol as a treatment for fungal infections.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to thyme, members of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, any component of thyme, or rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Avoid oral ingestion or non-diluted topical application of thyme oil due to potential toxicity. Avoid topical preparations in areas of skin breakdown or injury or in atopic patients due to multiple reports of contact dermatitis. Use cautiously with gastrointestinal irritation or peptic ulcer disease due to anecdotal reports of gastrointestinal irritation. Use cautiously with thyroid disorders due to observed anti-thyrotropic effects in animal research of the related speciesThymus serpyllum. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

Unquote

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January 15, 2013 · 3:51 am

20,000 Tea secrets: Ways to natural health benefits

Found the detailed descriptions of herbal benefits of various teas quite interesting. It would be fun to know which tea our readers enjoy the most in this book. The author is Victoria Zak. The ebook price is $7.99.

Here are a few excerpts:

Dandelion Root Tea 

…..It removes toxins that collect in your joints.  It removes free radicals…..

Dandelion Leave Tea 

…..Anemia..It has iron and vitamin C which helps iron absorption….

Damania 

…..A shrub indigenous to Texas….A nerve tonic….

And many more combination and single tea recipes, benefits, and where they grow. 

A nice social way to drink our way to health.

 

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September 27, 2012 · 5:21 pm

Natural products: Anti-fungal agents derived from plants

Tasleem Arif, T. K. Mandal and Rajesh Dabur, scientists at 

National Research Institue of Basic Ayurvedic Sciences Nehru Garden, Kothrud, Pune-411038, India published in 

Opportunity, Challenge and Scope of Natural Products in Medicinal Chemistry, 2011: 283-311 ISBN: 978-81-308-0448-4 

Abstract. As new spectrums of human fungal infections are increasing due to increased cancer and AIDS patients. The increased use of antifungal agents also resulted in the development of resistance to these drugs. It makes necessary to discover new classes of antifungal compounds to treat fungal infections. The research on natural products and natural products derived compounds has accelerated in recent years due to their importance in drug discovery. Plants are rich source of bioactive secondary metabolites of wide variety such as tannins, terpenoids, alkaloids, and flavonoids, reported to have in vitro antifungal properties. A series of molecules with antifungal activity against different strains of fungus have been found in plants, which are of great importance to humans and plants. These molecules may be used directly or considered as a model for developing better molecules. This review attempts to summarize the current status of reported antifungal compounds from plants. 

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September 27, 2012 · 4:03 pm

Expression of novel genes in response to various stimuli in the human dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum

Abstract

Background

Cutaneous mycoses are common human infections among healthy and immunocompromised hosts, and the anthropophilic fungus Trichophyton rubrum is the most prevalent microorganism isolated from such clinical cases worldwide. The aim of this study was to determine the transcriptional profile of T. rubrum exposed to various stimuli in order to obtain insights into the responses of this pathogen to different environmental challenges. Therefore, we generated an expressed sequence tag (EST) collection by constructing one cDNA library and nine suppression subtractive hybridization libraries.

Results

The 1388 unigenes identified in this study were functionally classified based on the Munich Information Center for Protein Sequences (MIPS) categories. The identified proteins were involved in transcriptional regulation, cellular defense and stress, protein degradation, signaling, transport, and secretion, among other functions. Analysis of these unigenes revealed 575 T. rubrum sequences that had not been previously deposited in public databases.

Conclusion

In this study, we identified novel T. rubrum genes that will be useful for ORF prediction in genome sequencing and facilitating functional genome analysis. Annotation of these expressed genes revealed metabolic adaptations of T. rubrum to carbon sources, ambient pH shifts, and various antifungal drugs used in medical practice. Furthermore, challenging T. rubrum with cytotoxic drugs and ambient pH shifts extended our understanding of the molecular events possibly involved in the infectious process and resistance to antifungal drugs.

Background

Trichophyton rubrum is a cosmopolitan dermatophyte that colonizes human skin and nails and is the most prevalent cause of human dermatophytoses [1,2]. During the initial stages of the infection, dermatophytes induce the expression of adhesins and unspecific proteases and keratinases that have optimum activity at acidic pH values [3], which is probably because the human skin has an acidic pH value [4]. The secretion of these proteases, which have been identified as an important step in fungal pathogenicity and virulence [5,6], act on keratinous and nonkeratinous substrates to release peptides that are further hydrolyzed to amino acids by putative peptidases. The metabolism of some amino acids shifts the extracellular pH from acidic to alkaline values at which most known keratinolytic proteases have optimal enzymatic activity[79]. T. rubrum also responds to the environmental pH by altering its gene expression profile[9,10].

Molecular studies have been performed with human pathogens such as Candida albicans,Histoplasma capsulatum, and Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, and the results thus obtained have helped to determine the fungal transcriptional profile and characterize the genes involved in host-pathogen interactions and environmental stress responses [1113]. Previously, a collection of T. rubrum expressed sequence tags (ESTs) was obtained from distinct developmental phases[14,15]. However, determining the transcriptional profiles in response to different cell stimuli is necessary for extending our understanding of diverse cellular events, and the results from such studies may reveal new signal transduction networks and the activation of specific metabolic pathways. Functional analysis of the genes involved in these molecular events will help in evaluating their roles as putative cellular targets in the development of new antifungal agents.

Our study aimed to extend the T. rubrum genomic database by adding expressed gene resources that cover different aspects of cellular metabolism. Moreover, the data can help to generate useful information to screen valuable genes for functional and postgenomic analyses. The EST collection described here revealed the metabolic adaptations of the human pathogen T. rubrum to changes in the ambient pH and carbon sources and also provided information on the adaptive responses to several cytotoxic drugs. 

__________________________________________________________________________________

Transcriptional profiling reveals the expression of novel genes in response to various stimuli in the human dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum

Nalu TA Peres1Pablo R Sanches1Juliana P Falcão1,3Henrique CS Silveira1Fernanda G Paião1Fernanda CA Maranhão1Diana E Gras1Fernando Segato1Rodrigo A Cazzaniga1,Mendelson Mazucato1Jeny R Cursino-Santos1Roseli Aquino-Ferreira1Antonio Rossi2and Nilce M Martinez-Rossi1*

Author Affiliations

1Departamento de Genética, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto 14049-900, SP, Brazil

2Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto 14049-900, SP, Brazil

3Current address: Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, 14040-903, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil

For all author emails, please log on.

 
 
 
 

BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:39 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-39

 

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2180/10/39

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June 20, 2012 · 11:48 pm

Ability to communicate improves during Fever or Seizure in some children with Autism?

The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation reports on the observation by some parents that they find it easier to communicate to their Autistic child during a fever or seizure. Researchers are trying to find reasons for this in the hope it will give some answers to therapy protocol.

The site also suggests a reading list for Autism related research.

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April 4, 2012 · 1:46 pm

How Vitamin A might have helped an Autistic boy read clearly

Dr Megson, says that Autism may be a disorder linked to the disruption of the G-alpha protein, affecting retinoid receptors in the brain.  

 A study of 60 autistic children suggests that autism may be caused by inserting a G-alpha protein defect, the pertussis toxin found in the DPT vaccine, into genetically at-risk children. 

Dr Megson studied the 60 children at the Medical College of Virginia. Please, encourage more of this research by showering this scientist with encouragement, invite for a public lecture and perhaps dollar bills in the mail……….

For these and other reasons I started the boy on cod liver oil (3500 IU of Vitamin A) and a gluten free diet. After one week, he began to sit farther from the television and to notice paintings on the walls at home. He had always gone out of his way to follow the sidewalk and driveway to meet the school bus. On Vitamin A, he began to run across the grass directly from the front door to the school bus. After three weeks, he was given a single dose of Urocholine, an alpha muscarinic receptor agonist, to increase bile and pancreatic secretions and indirectly stimulate hippocampal retinoid receptors. It has minimal cardiac effect, is FDA approved, has been used safely in children since the 1970’s for reflux, and does not cross the blood–brain barrier, unlike secretin (17). It stimulates post-synaptic cell membranes via receptors for acetyl- choline, a neurotransmitter in the parasympathetic system.

Thirty minutes after administration of the Urocholine, the patient, who was sitting in a chair, swung his feet over the side, pointed to a glass candy jar on my shelf and said, ‘May I have the red Jolly Rancher® please?’ He had read the label on the candy in the clear jar. These were the first words he had spoken in eight years, and the first proof that he could read. We took him outside and he said, ‘The leaves, the leaves on the trees are green! I see! I see!’ When I asked to take his picture he looked at the camera, smiled and waved. When he left the office I said, ‘See you later.’ He asked, ‘What time?’

In this child’s case, after several weeks of treatment with Vitamin A in CLO 3500 IU/day, the Urocholine acted like a switch. When absorbed, he immediately became socially engaged, made excellent eye contact, hugged his mother tightly and said, ‘I love you so much,’ looking at her face. At that point we both realized that this child had a blocked pathway. The change in language and social interaction was dramatic and imme- diate. Yet he reverted to the pre-treatment state of silence when the dose wore off.  ………

Correspondence to: M. N. Megson, Developmental Pediatrician, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Virginia Hospitals/Virginia Commonwealth University, Pediatric and Adolescent Ability Center, 7229 Forest Avenue, Suite 211, Richmond, VA 23226, USA. Phone: +1 804 673 9028; Fax: +1 804 673 9195 

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April 1, 2012 · 2:27 am

A young girl holding the pink breast cancer ribbon

Dr Miller and colleagues from cancer centers of North Carolina studied the genetic signatures of 674 breast cancer patients to predict how regulation of iron by an individual is linked to recovery. They published their work in the November issue of the journal Cancer Research in 2011.

Genes involved: There are 61 genes involved in regulation of iron and of them 49% appeared to be significantly associated with metastasis -free survival. This has a potential to affect therapeutic decision making.

Regulators of iron efflux: Dr. Nemeth and colleagues from California and Boston hospitals reported in an article in the journal Science in 2004 on how the liver regulates cellular iron levels. Hepcidin is a hormone secreted by the liver in response to iron loading and inflammation. Decreased hepcidin leads to tissue iron overload whereas increased hepcidin leads to hypoferremia and the anaemia of inflammation. (cancer research 71:6728)

The hormone hepcidin binds to a protein ferroportin on the surface of cells. This signals the cells to internalize the protein ferroportin and degrade it. This leads to decreased export of cellular iron. This is a loop. Iron regulates the secretion of hepcidin from the liver, which regulates internalization of the protein ferroportin on cell surfaces, which controls iron export from cells. Less export leads to overload of iron in cells.

Iron overload disorders: It is important to have a balanced amount of iron in the cells. Too much or too little iron is bad. The amount of iron differs during different stages in one’s life with a menstruating woman needing far more iron than a post menopausal woman. An excellent 2011 review in the journal, Internal Journal of Hematology by Dr  Kaplan and colleagues at Utah school of Medicine summarizes the current knowledge on levels of iron in cells, disorders and anaemia.

Special Diet for iron overload: Read the Hemochromatosis cookbook and this excellent blog from the Iron Disorders Institute:: Iron overload. Find a doctor immediately who will listen to you and is knowledgeable about this topic. Usually a gastroenterologist or hematologist. Blood donation is often the suggested therapy for iron overload and appears to help.

Scientist to encourage in this field: If research in this field is important to you then do write to the researchers involved in such research and encourage them. The value of Dr Miller’s work can be emphasized by emailing her colleague Dr Torti E-mail: ftorti@wakehealth.edu

Dr Kaplan to encourage and for questions on iron overload Email:  jerry.kaplan@path.utah.edu

Scientists work alone, often long hours in isolated settings. Letting them know that you consider their work important inspires them and spurs them to undertake often risky research. Help them find funding. Shower them with accolades.

If you found this article useful, please let me know by either hitting the like button here or in the “About” section (if you enjoyed more than one article here). It would help me to know which topics you would want me to research and write here.

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January 5, 2012 · 4:20 pm