Sunday, July 11, 2010

Smell of jasmine 'as calming as valium'

Then why did Valium get such an uptake? It's only a rodent study anyway and comparisons between the rodent brain and the human brain are always ambitious. And when one considers that rodents are probably much more smell-dependant than humans, any generalizations from the results below would have to be regarded as very optimistic

The sweet smell of jasmine is as good as valium at calming the nerves with none of the side effects, according to new research.

Laboratory tests found the fragrance and its chemical substitute dramatically calmed mice when their cage was filled with it, causing them to cease all activity and sit quietly in a corner.

When the air was breathed in the scent molecules went from the lungs into the blood and were then transmitted to the brain. Brain scans showed the effect on a chemical called GABA on nerve cells was enhanced by the fragrances and helped soothe, relieve anxiety and promote rest.

Professor Hanns Hatt said the results published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry can "be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy".

His team also hope that by changing the chemical structure of the scent molecules, they can achieve even stronger effects. They tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effect on GABA receptors in humans and mice and found jasmine increased the GABA effect by more than five times and acted as strongly as sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants which can cause depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.

Prof Hatt, of the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, said: "We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered parentally and through the respiratory air. "Applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable."

Jasmine is a type of essential oil widely used in aromatherapy, which was pioneered by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. It is thought to offer various healing effects.

Inhaling jasmine oil molecules is said to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions. Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system.

Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Jasmine oil is often touted as a natural remedy for stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms. It is also said to act as an aphrodisiac.

The name Jasmine is derived from the Persian yasmin which means "a gift from God" so named because of the intense fragrance of the blooms.

There are over 300 species of the plant that occur mainly in the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, although a few are found in countries with cold winters. The scent rising off the petals is sweet and intoxicating. Jasmine is found in more than 83% of all women's scents and 33% of men's.

More than five million flowers must be gathered to produce one kilo of what is known as "pure jasmine absolute". As a result, much of the jasmine used in perfume is a chemical approximation.


Another meltdown of conventional medical wisdom?

Type 2 diabetes drug taken by 100,000 in UK may be banned over heart disease fears

A drug taken by thousands of men and women with diabetes could be banned over concerns that it raises the risk of heart disease. The safety of Avandia - currently prescribed to 100,000 people in Britain - is under investigation by the Europeans Medicine Agency, a watchdog with the power to withdraw treatments in Britain. It follows research that shows the drug puts users at a 60 per cent greater risk of heart failure than other medication.

Avandia is currently prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease linked to obesity which usually occurs in middle age.

It is already being investigated in the US by the Food and Drugs Administration, the medicines watchdog, who will report their findings next week. Later this month it will come under scrutiny from experts from the EMA which could lead to it being withdrawn from the market completely.

In the meantime GSK has advised patients to carry on taking the tablets, also known as rosiglitazone, but said those with serious concerns should consult their GP.

Dr Tony Hoos, European Medical Director for GlaxoSmithKline said: 'GSK is fully committed to patient safety and believes that rosiglitazone is an important treatment option for appropriate Type 2 diabetes patients. It is one of the most extensively researched diabetes medicines and has been studied in more than 50,000 patients.

'Diabetes is a chronic, long term condition with serious consequences, and patients should not stop taking rosiglitazone, or any other medicine for type 2 diabetes, without consulting their doctor.'

Avandia was once GSK second-biggest selling drug but sales have plunged since safety concerns first emerged three years ago.

Research in Canada in 2007 suggested that the drug puts users at a 60 per cent greater risk of heart failure, a 40 per cent greater risk of heart attack and a 29 per cent greater risk of death than other medication.

The study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, warned that the drug 'may cause more harm than good'.

Then two years ago researchers from the University of East Anglia and Wake Forest University in North Carolina suggested that Avandia could raise women's risk of breaking bones. There have even have been reports that GSK knew of the possible side effects several years ago - the firm has always denied this however.

Since the safety concerns were raised several patients in America have filed lawsuits against GSK.


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