Saturday, December 26, 2009

Myrrh helps lower your cholesterol levels

One awaits replication of this result

The Three Wise Men were actually being cleverer than they thought - scientists have discovered that myrrh is good for your heart. Myrrh is a rust-coloured resin obtained from several species of Commiphora and Balsamodendron trees, native to the Middle East and Ethiopia. It is best known as one of the gifts of the Three Wise Men offered to the infant Jesus, along with gold and frankincense. At the time, myrrh was revered as an embalming ointment and as a perfume but it seems that as well preserving you in death it can preserve you in life too.

In the study, published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, Nadia Saleh Al-Amoudi, a researcher from King Abd Al-Aziz University in Saudi Arabia noted that myrrh has long been used as a medicinal treatment for sore throats, congestion, and cuts and burns. The researcher fed myrrh resin, among other plant materials, to albino rats, and found that levels of "bad" cholesterol fell and levels of "good" cholesterol went up while the rodents were on the diet.

The discovery opens new doors for research into fighting high cholesterol, a health problem that is closely linked with the rise in obesity. "Of all nutrients, fat is implicated most often as a contributing factor to disease," explains the researchers.

This is not the first time that myrrh has been shown to have health giving properties. A study by Rutgers University in New Jersey found a substance found in the plant extract could be used to fight prostate and breast cancers.


Woman allergic to Christmas trees

A woman who becomes ill at the end of each year has found she is allergic to Christmas trees. Lisa Smith, 26, from East London, has suffered from a mysterious recurring condition since she was a teenager. Initially it was put down to the usual annual bout of winter flu. But now doctors have finally identified that she suffers from a rare allergy to chemicals found in pine needles.

Miss Smith, a swimming instructor, said: "From the moment the first Christmas trees went up in the shops, I'd plunge into what felt like a constant flu. Even on Christmas Day I found it impossible to feel excited about opening presents and would sneeze and cough and blow my nose throughout dinner."

After her fiancé, City worker, Phil French, 27, suggested she may be allergic to Christmas, she did some internet research and discovered it was a genuine condition. A strong smelling sap contained in pine needles can trigger allergies similar to those experienced by hay fever sufferers.

Miss Smith's GP confirmed the diagnosis and she has now replaced her traditional real Christmas tree with an artificial one. She said: "This will be the first time in over a decade I will be able to have a normal Christmas. It will be a relief to open my presents and have a Christmas Dinner without feeling unwell."


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