Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Curry component could one day cure your tennis elbow by reducing inflammation

Study in laboratory glassware only so far

Eating curry could offer new hope for sufferers of tennis elbow and other forms of tendinitis, says new research. A key ingredient found in Indian curries blocks tendon inflammation in the joints, which causes pain and misery for thousands.

The discovery could eventually lead to the development of a remedy for a painful condition which is on the increase, according to an international team of researchers.

They have shown that curcumin, which gives the spice turmeric its trademark bright yellow colouring, can be used to suppress biological mechanisms that spark inflammation in tendon diseases.

In a paper due to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers at The University of Nottingham and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich described laboratory experiments that show the ingredient can switch off the inflammatory cell cycle involved.

Dr Ali Mobasheri of the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, who co-led the research, said: ‘Our research is not suggesting that curry, turmeric or curcumin are cures for inflammatory conditions such as tendinitis and arthritis. ‘However, we believe that it could offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition.

‘Further research into curcumin, and chemically-modified versions of it, should be the subject of future investigations and complementary therapies aimed at reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the only drugs currently available for the treatment of tendinitis and various forms of arthritis.’

Tendons, the tough cords of fibrous connective tissue that join muscles to bones, are essential for movement because they transfer the force of muscle contraction to bones but are prone to injury, particularly in athletes.

Tendinitis (or tendonitis) is a form of tendon inflammation, which causes pain and tenderness near to joints and is particularly common in shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, heels or wrists. Other examples of common tendon disease include tennis and golfer’s elbow and Achilles tendinitis.

The global incidence of tendonitis is on the increase because people are living longer and older people are more at risk of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

At present, standard treatment aims to relieve pain and reduce inflammation using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In more serious cases of tendon injury, steroid injections can be given directly into the tendon sheath to control pain and enable physical therapy to start.

However, NSAIDS and steroids are associated with undesired side effects including stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, diarrhoea, constipation, drowsiness and fatigue.

There is an acute need for new treatments with fewer debilitating side effects, said Dr Mobasheri. This latest research looked at curcumin, a key ingredient of the spice turmeric, which has been used for centuries in traditional Indian or ‘Ayurvedic’ medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and other disorders.

In the laboratory, researchers used a culture model of human tendon inflammation to study the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin on tendon cells.

The main objective of the study was to observe the effects that curcumin had on the inflammatory and degenerative properties induced by signalling molecules called interleukins. Interleukins are a type of small cell-signalling protein molecules called cytokines that can activate a whole series of inflammatory genes by triggering a dangerous ‘switch’ called NFkB.

The results showed that introducing curcumin in the culture system inhibits NFkB and prevents it from switching on and promoting further inflammation.

Previous research suggests turmeric may be useful in a variety of conditions, including cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

However, experts say it is difficult to get a big enough dose to remedy medical problems from a curry meal, as 100g of curry powder has to be eaten to deliver a 3.6g clinical dose.

Hundreds of thousands of people suffer inflammation of the tendons each year. Apart from exercise-related injury, the condition can be sparked from repetitive strain on the joints and overuse.


Soy tablets 'do NOT ease menopause symptoms' and could make hot flushes worse

"Alternative" remedy fails when properly tested

Soy tablets do not cut symptoms of the menopause in older women or improve bone strength, researchers have warned.

Many women have turned to natural remedies to cope with symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweating and low mood because, it is claimed, they fear the side effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy. But a two-year study by researchers at the University of Miami of almost 250 women virtually no difference between those taking 200mg soy tablets daily or dummy pills.

Women who took the supplements every day for two years didn't have any improvement in their symptoms compared with those who took a soy-free placebo pill. They also suffered more hot flashes by the end of the study.

Women seeking relief have been left without a risk-free treatment since 2010 after a 15-year study found estrogen and progestin could increase heart and cancer risks. [NOTHING in life is risk-free but the risks with HRT are very small]

Lead author Dr Silvina Levis, said: 'What prompted us to do this study was in the wake of the Women's Health Initiative study when many of our patients stopped using hormone therapy. 'Many of them had just gone to a health food store and started on soy supplements.

'The study was started to try to answer a simple question: will these soy isoflavone tablets help women with the issues they were concerned with?'

Soy is a bean found in foods like soy milk, soy sauce, tofu and miso soup. It is often also used as a meat substitute in vegetarian foods.

Dr Levis and her team randomly split 248 women who had recently hit menopause into two groups. For two years, half of the women took 200 milligrams of soy isoflavones every day - about twice the amount that would be in a soy-rich diet. The other half took placebo pills. None of them knew whether they were getting the real or sham treatment.

Most of the participants were Hispanic, and 182 completed the study.

At their two-year visit, women in both groups had lost the same amount of bone density in their spine and hip since starting the study. They also reported a similar number of menopause symptoms, except more 48 per cent of women in the soy group reported hot flashes compared to 32 per cent in the placebo group.

Women taking the daily soy supplements also reported some of the stomach and digestion problems, such as constipation, that have been linked to soy before. However, there were no serious side effects related to the supplements, the authors report in Archives of Internal Medicine.

'When we started the study we wanted this to work, because it would provide an easy and healthy way to help women in the initial stages of menopause,' Dr Levis said.

After this, she said 'maybe women will reconsider' taking soy tablets during menopause.

William Wong, a nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that it doesn't mean soy couldn't have health benefits over a longer period of time - such as if girls started getting more of it during puberty.

Medications including certain anti-depressants may provide relief for menopause symptoms in some women, Dr Levis said.

For bone health, Dr Wong recommended regular physical activity, combined with calcium and vitamin D supplements.


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