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My Life With Tea

I have written about the health benefits of green tea for more than 30 years, and it is possible that in some small way I have helped this wonderful beverage become popular in the United States. I hope so, because today, thousands of scientific studies confirm what the ancient Chinese knew through simple observation - green tea is perhaps the most healthful beverage human beings can consume. Studies either strongly suggest or confirm that the antioxidants in green tea can reduce LDL cholesterol, promote fat burning, reduce the risk of several forms of cancer, and alleviate depression.

But tea is much more than the healthful compounds in it. It is an experience, and for me, a personal story of discovery that continues to this day.

Here is the whole story from my site, in two parts: Part One and Part Two.


AzCIM Graduating Class: Fall 2009

Here are the students and residents who took part in the Fall, 2009 Integrative Medicine rotation at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Congratulations to all!


Solution for Breast Cancer: Spices?

Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a combination of spices - curcumin (from turmeric) plus piperine (from black pepper) - that might help prevent breast cancer. They've tested their spicy recipe in the lab on breast cells and found that the combination decreased the number of cancer stem cells that fuel the growth of tumors. The spicy solution interrupted the self-renewal process characteristic of the cancer-initiating cells. However, the spices didn't harm normal breast cells. The amount of curcumin and piperine used was about 20 times as much as could be consumed through diet. In the spring, the research team plans to start recruiting volunteers for a study to find out how high a dose of curcumin and piperine humans can safely tolerate. So far, the spices haven't been tested in patients, and the investigators urged women not to try it on their own. The study was published online on November 7 in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.


The Known Universe

I posted this amazing video on my Twitter also. It's an incredible voyage through space.

Description taken from the American Museum of Natural History's YouTube channel:

The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.


Brazilian Mint Tea for Pain

The tea doesn't taste much like mint -­ more like sage, a plant in the mint family ­- but it seems to work as well as aspirin to relieve pain, at least when tested on mice. The mint tea has been used in Brazil for centuries to treat headaches, stomachaches and other minor complaints. To learn how it might work, a research team at England's Newcastle University first studied the traditional method of preparing Brazilian mint (Hyptis crenata) tea for medicinal purposes. This involves boiling dried leaves for 30 minutes and allowing the concoction to cool before drinking it. When tested on mice, the tea proved as effective for treatment of pain as a synthetic aspirin, Indometacin. The investigators are now planning clinical trials to see how well the potion works for pain relief in humans. The study results were presented in November at the 2nd International symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants and will be published in the journal Acta Horticulturae.


5 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Over 30 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's disease. While some mild memory loss is a natural part of the aging process, the symptoms of Alzheimer's are not. Use this list to help detect warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, and talk with your physician if you or a family member is displaying any of these symptoms.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This common sign of Alzheimer's includes forgetting important dates, events and recently learned information, as well as repeatedly asking for the same information and relying on others for regular tasks.
  2. Planning and problem solving challenges. Common examples are taking a long time to complete familiar, simple tasks such as developing a plan, working with numbers, following directions (such as recipe) or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Familiar tasks become unfamiliar. It may be difficult to complete daily, routine tasks such as driving to a familiar location, reciting much-used phone numbers, or remembering the rules of favorite games.
  4. Confusion about time or place. Losing track of dates, where you are or how you got there, and the general passage of time is a sign of Alzheimer's.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Difficulty reading, judging distance, determining color or contrast, and confusion as to what is reflected in a mirror may affect some people with Alzheimer's. 

Find more information on treating and preventing Alzheimer's disease.


Noise Can Raise Your Blood Pressure

If you live near a noisy highway or anywhere close to traffic sounds, you may be at increased risk of high blood pressure. That's the conclusion of a new study from Sweden, which found that adults who live near the noisiest roads were much more likely to report high blood pressure than individuals who live in quieter surroundings. (For the record, the highest average traffic noise level was 64 decibels, compared to 60 decibels during normal conversation). More than 24,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 80 participated in the study. Interestingly, those younger than 40 who lived near noisy roads were about twice as likely to report high blood pressure than those whose home environments were quieter (although overall there was less high blood pressure in this age group than among those between the ages of 40 to 59). Adults over 59 didn't seem to be affected by noise, perhaps because they had other overshadowing risks for high blood pressure, the investigators suggested. This new investigation supports earlier research demonstrating that living near airports or working in noisy environments raises the risks of high blood pressure and heart attack. The study was published on September 9, 2009 in the online journal Environmental Health.


Migraines Ruining Your Day? Life?

Approximately 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Migraines are more common in women than in men, and are likely hereditary, as almost half of those suffering have family members with a history of migraines.

Characterized by recurring, intense, throbbing pain that is usually limited to one side of the head, migraines begin suddenly in and around the eye or temple, spreading to one or both sides of the head. The pain may be accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting or a visual aura. To help prevent migraines, I suggest:

  • Keeping a diary to help you identify your own triggers.
  • Learning and practicing relaxation techniques regularly.
  • Trying biofeedback - this training can teach you how to influence autonomic functions in the body and may help change blood-flow patterns, including those that can cause migraines. 

I've written about this topic on my website many times - here are a few from the archives about treating headaches.