In This Issue:

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the February 2007 True North Tune-Up. We continue to emphasize “up stream” strategies for health in the areas of nutrition, mind-body, and lifestyle. The studies are from peer-reviewed scientific journals.

To your health,

B. Joseph Semmes, MD
Director of Research, True North
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine

Cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections?
Evidence-based medicine folks at Oxford University, U.K. have put this issue nicely in perspective. While it works it is no miracle cure. (Figure 1 on this link shows in a glance how the studies stack up. The size of the circles correspond to the number of women in each of the studies. If cranberry juice and placebo had the same effect the circles would all be on the diagonal from lower left to upper right.) The authors also summarize: “We can express these results to women who might want to consider using cranberry juice themselves. Perhaps we should say that over six months to a year of cranberry juice use:

  • 7 out of 10 women wouldn't have a urinary tract infection anyway
  • 2 out of 10 women will have a urinary tract infection anyway
  • 1 out of 10 women will not have a urinary tract infection because they used cranberry juice."

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Guided imagery reduces complex intractable pain.
Published in December 2006 issue of Neurology, Oxford University investigators studied 50 patients with severe, difficult to treat, pain syndromes known as regional sympathetic dystrophy (or complex regional pain syndrome) and patients with “phantom limb” pain. These are pathological pain syndromes where there is not thought to be underlying tissue damage. When guided imagery was compared to standard care, patients who were randomized to do the guided imagery had significantly less pain and disability. The improvements were still significant six months later.

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Resveratrol: What’s all the noise about?
Resveratrol stories were splashed across the nation’s newspapers last November. Studies showed mice lived longer, resisted obesity and had increased endurance when supplemented with VERY HIGH doses of the plant chemical. The trans form of resveratrol is thought to activate the SERT1 enzyme in its anti-aging effect. Resveratrol has been flying off the shelves of health food stores since all the publicity but may be another example of the supplement industry outpacing the science.  Resverotrol is found in red grapes and red wines, especially pinot noirs and other reds from northern climates.

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This 2003 review of resveratrol provides plenty of background (133 linked references) for the ambitious readers among you.

Health strategies surely need more than a “magic bullet”; but “stay-tuned” for the resveratrol/ red wine story.

Cayenne may help diabetics.
Capsicum, chili pepper and cayenne all contain capsaicin, the substance which makes them taste “hot”. Long recognized as a topical pain medication, capsaicin appears to lower insulin levels, especially in overweight patients. While the study was small, 36 people over four weeks, the decrease of peak insulin by 36% suggests a potentially significant role for type II (adult) diabetics.

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Homeopathic treatment slows prostate cancer growth in a rat model.
The National Cancer Institute funded this study because of promising early human results from a homeopathy-based cancer treatment center in India. The lead author is a former director of the NIH office for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  100 rats with induced prostate cancer were randomly assigned to receive five homeopathic treatments or be “controls”. The treated rats had 23% fewer cancers and when they did have cancer the volumes of the cancers were reduced by 38%. None of the gene expression or other mechanisms studied by the investigators correlated with the anti-cancer actions.

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Information provided in the True North Tune-Up is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The information and links in this e-publication are intended to provide general education on the topics listed, but you should not use the information or links to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner. True North advises you to always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioner prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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