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Chicago Conference Covers Latest Research on Natural Products for Women’s Health

By James J. Gormley

On October 20th, 2012, the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI) held its 8th Annual NHRI Scientific Symposium, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Natural Products for Women’s Health.”

Presented by the University of Illinois (UIC) College of Pharmacy and the American Nutrition Association (ANA), the UIC College of Pharmacy auditorium was attended by a students and practicing pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors and Certified Nutrition Specialists.

The event featured a stellar line-up of world-class experts in natural products and women’s health. The speakers were:

Tori Hudson, N.D., Clinical Professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and Medical Director of A Woman’s Time.

Richard B. van Breemen, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy and Director of the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research.

Harry G. Preuss, M.D., CNS, Professor of Biochemistry, Medicine and Pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Dennis B. Lubahn, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry & Child Health and Director of the NIH Botanical Center, University of Missouri-Columbia.

William Helferich, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition, Diet, Women’s Health & Aging, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, Director of Doctoral Studies & Educational Director, Hawthorn University.

Dr. Hudson’s presentation, entitled “Evidence-based Natural Solutions to Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause” busted some media-fed myths regarding black cohosh, in which she detailed its strong safety record and efficacy for peri-menopause and menopause symptoms.

She also outlined the benefits of ginseng, hops, kava, kudzu, maca, red clover, Pycnogenol, Sibiric rhubarb, St. John’s wort, valerian, omega-3 fats, multi-ingredient combinations and specific treatment protocols she uses for specific symptoms.

Dr. van Breemen’s talk was entitled: “Safety and Efficacy of Botanical Dietary Supplements As Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy.” His presentation detailed research into botanical alternatives to HRT, including promising studies on hops, red clover and black cohosh.

Dr. Preuss’ presentation, entititled “Managing Obesity With Natural Dietary Supplements: Lessons Learned From Clinical Research Studies,” emphasized the importance of reduced body fat, not just overall weight, in improving body composition, and looked at research into chromium, carb blockers, green tea extract, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Dr. Lubahn’s talk was entitled “Using Botanicals, Hedgehogs, and Estrogens in the Prevention of Human Disease,” in which he outlined studies showing experimental benefits against prostate cancer  with high concentrations of genistein from soy, EGCG from green tea, curcumin and resveratrol, and low concentrations with the new botanicals under study, like sutherlandia (Lessertia frutescens), and how these plant compounds are able to hold back unwanted signaling in mouse and human prostate cancer cell lines, which researchers link to estrogen and which may point to benefits for cancers in women.

Dr. Helferich’s presentation, entitled Isoflavones and Breast Cancer Growth and Progression: Insights From Pre-Clinical Models,” pointed to a potentially better safety profile for soy genistein-containing diets (for example, from fermented foods) than from isolated extracts of genistein.

Dr. Lipski’s entertaining talk was entitled “Women and Digestive Issues: Focus on IBS, Constipation and Leaky Gut.” She gave a detailed discussion of the intestine’s impact on virtually every single health area, and covered such as topics as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), dysbiosis and depression, psychiatric symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, leaky gut and associated conditions, the benefits of bone broths and gut-healing foods, and supplements and dietary approaches to all of these conditions.

With the event having been organized by the NHRI and the American Nutrition Association, and hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, support for the conference was provided by the NOW® Health Group and Kabco Pharmaceuticals. The conference proceedings are available here.

About the NHRI

The NHRI is an independent, non-profit organization that supports science-based research on natural health and wellness.  It is committed to informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle to improve health and wellness, and reduce disease around the world.

Herbs for the Flu, Tested By Science

Adapted from The Antibiotic Alternative: The Natural Guide to Fighting Infection and Maintaining a Healthy Immune System by Cindy L. A. Jones, Ph.D. (Inner Traditions, 2000).

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It is getting to be time that we all get a bit more sophisticated about the flu, what with the Swine flu fears looming as a possible global pandemic. Vaccinations, antiviral drugs and pharmaceuticals are not the focus of this article, but finding effective herbs to help combat the illness is.

A flu and cold are often difficult to differentiate, but a flu is usually worse. Symptoms include a fever with chills, runny nose, cough, headache, and a feeling of malaise or tiredness. Although the most acute symptoms usually subside within three days, symptoms such as weakness and coughing may persist for ten days. Even though the flu is typically self-limiting, serious complications can arise in the very young or the elderly or those with a preexisting disease.

Two herbs have stood the test of science as being effective against the flu. Find out which ones, here:

The ideal approach to the flu is, of course, prevention. This might be accomplished by improving the immune system, especially in the fall as flu season approaches. Several studies have shown that astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) extracts can stimulate the immune system. Use astragalus as an extract or add the root to soups.

If you do get the flu, here are two herbs shown to help reduce the severity of the illness.