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One Acupuncture Treatment Drops Blood Pressure For Over a Month Without Medication
Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine and University of California, Irvine , August 21, 2022
Emerging evidence from a research study shows acupuncture may be an effective treatment for hypertension. Acupuncture regulates blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature. Patients with hypertension treated with acupuncture experienced drops in their blood pressure that lasted up to a month and a half, researchers with the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine have found.
Their work is the first to scientifically confirm that this ancient Chinese practice is beneficial in treating mild to moderate hypertension, and it indicates that regular use could help people control their blood pressure and lessen their risk of stroke and heart disease.
“This clinical study is the culmination of more than a decade of bench research in this area,” said Dr. John Longhurst, a University of California, Irvine cardiologist and former director of the Samueli Center. “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S.”
Longhurst and his UCI colleagues Dr. Peng Li and Stephanie Tjen-A-Looi conducted tests on 65 hypertensive patients who were not receiving any hypertension medication. Separated randomly into two groups, the subjects were treated with electroacupuncture – a form of the practice that employs low-intensity electrical stimulation – at different acupoints on the body.
In one group of 33 receiving electroacupuncture on both sides of the inner wrists and slightly below each knee, the researchers found a noticeable drop in blood pressure rates in 70 percent of participants – an average of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (the high number) and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure (the low number). These improvements persisted for a month and a half.
Also in this group, the team identified significant declines in blood concentration levels of norepinephrine (41 percent), which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and glucose levels; and renin (67 percent), an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps control blood pressure. In addition, the electroacupuncture decreased aldosterone (22 percent), a hormone that regulates electrolytes.
No consequential blood pressure changes were found in the group of 32 who received electroacupuncture at other acupoints along the forearm and lower leg.
Although the blood pressure reductions in the first cohort were relatively small – mostly in the 4-to-13-mmHg range – the researchers noted that they were clinically meaningful and that the technique could be especially useful in treating systolic hypertension in patients over 60.
“Because electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients,” Longhurst said.
Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die
New York University Langone Health. August 17, 2022
Vitamin C may “tell” faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, and published online in the journal Cell.
Certain genetic changes are known to reduce the ability of an enzyme called TET2 to encourage stem cells to become mature blood cells, which eventually die, in many patients with certain kinds of leukemia, say the authors. The new study found that vitamin C activated TET2 function in mice engineered to be deficient in the enzyme.
“We’re excited by the prospect that high-dose vitamin C might become a safe treatment for blood diseases caused by TET2-deficient leukemia stem cells, most likely in combination with other targeted therapies,” says corresponding study author Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine and director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Changes in the genetic code (mutations) that reduce TET2 function are found in 10 percent of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 30 percent of those with a form of pre-leukemia called myelodysplastic syndrome, and in nearly 50 percent of patients with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Such cancers cause anemia, infection risk, and bleeding as abnormal stem cells multiply in the bone marrow until they interfere with blood cell production, with the number of cases increasing as the population ages.
The study results revolve around the relationship between TET2 and cytosine, one of the four nucleic acid “letters” that comprise the DNA code in genes. Every cell type has the same genes, but each gets different instructions to turn on only those needed in a given cellular context.
These “epigenetic” regulatory mechanisms include DNA methylation, the attachment of a small molecule termed a methyl group to cytosine bases that shuts down the action of a gene containing them.
The back- and-forth attachment and removal of methyl groups also fine-tunes gene expression in stem cells, which can mature, specialize and multiply to become muscle, bone, nerve, or other cell types. This happens as the body first forms, but the bone marrow also keeps pools of stem cells on hand into adulthood, ready to become replacement cells as needed. In leukemia, signals that normally tell a blood stem cell to mature malfunction, leaving it to endlessly multiply and “self-renew” instead of producing normal white blood cells needed to fight infection.
The enzyme studied in this report, Tet methylcytosine dioxygenase 2 (TET2), enables a change in the molecular structure (oxidation) of methyl groups that is needed for them to be removed from cytosines. This “demethylation” turns on genes that direct stem cells to mature, and to start a count-down toward self-destruction as part of normal turnover. This serves as an anti-cancer safety mechanism, one that is disrupted in blood cancer patients with TET2 mutations, says Neel.
To determine the effect of mutations that reduce TET2 function in abnormal stem cells, the research team genetically engineered mice such that the scientists could switch the TET2 gene on or off.
Similar to the naturally occurring effects of TET2 mutations in mice or humans, using molecular biology techniques to turn off TET2 in mice caused abnormal stem cell behavior. Remarkably, these changes were reversed when TET2 expression was restored by a genetic trick. Previous work had shown that vitamin C could stimulate the activity of TET2 and its relatives TET1 and TET3. Because only one of the two copies of the TET2 gene in each stem cell is usually affected in TET2-mutant blood diseases, the authors hypothesized that high doses of vitamin C, which can only be given intravenously, might reverse the effects of TET2 deficiency by turning up the action of the remaining functional gene.
Indeed, they found that vitamin C did the same thing as restoring TET2 function genetically. By promoting DNA demethylation, high-dose vitamin C treatment induced stem cells to mature, and also suppressed the growth of leukemia cancer stem cells from human patients implanted in mice.
“Interestingly, we also found that vitamin C treatment had an effect on leukemic stem cells that resembled damage to their DNA,” says first study author Luisa Cimmino, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health. “For this reason, we decided to combine vitamin C with a PARP inhibitor, a drug type known to cause cancer cell death by blocking the repair of DNA damage, and already approved for treating certain patients with ovarian cancer.”
Researchers found that the combination had an enhanced effect on leukemia stem cells, further shifting them from self-renewal back toward maturity and cell death. The results also suggest that vitamin C might drive leukemic stem cells without TET2 mutations toward death, says Cimmino, given that it turns up any TET2 activity normally in place.
“Our team is working to systematically identify genetic changes that contribute to risk for leukemia in significant groups of patients,” says corresponding author Iannis Aifantis, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health. “This study adds the targeting of abnormal TET2-driven DNA demethylation to our list of potential new treatment approaches.”
Burnt out? Rhodiola rosea supplements may help, says new study
Wein University Medical School (Austria), 18-Aug-2022
Daily supplements containing Rhodiola rosea extract may improve the symptoms of burnout, suggests data from the first trial to examine the effects of the botanical extract on this modern day condition.
Results of the open-label, multicenter, single-arm trial provide “an encouraging basis” for future clinical trials to study if R. rosea extract can indeed help people suffering from burnout, which is reported to be an increasing burden to people and economies in the Western world.
“Most of the outcome variables assessed in this trial demonstrated relevant improvement over time with considerable changes already being detectable after the first week of R. rosea administration,” wrote Siegfried Kasper from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria and Angelika Dienel from Dr Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. in Germany in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment .
Despite being the first to specifically examine the effects of R. rosea in burnout, the results are in-line with previously reported benefits of the root extract, which is primary used for stress, mental and physical fatigue, depression, and to boost energy.
For the new study, Kasper and Dienel recruited 118 men and women aged between 30 and 60 suffering from symptoms of burnout. The participants were asked to consume 400 mg per day of a R. rosea extract (WS 1375, Rosalin, which is the active ingredient in Dr Willmar Schwabe’s Vitango product) for 12 weeks.
The majority of symptoms improved during the course of the study, with some improvements measurable as early as the first week, said the researchers.
Specifically, improvements in symptoms such as “emotional exhaustion”, “fatigue”, “exhaustion”, “lack of joy”, “loss of zest for life”, and “depersonalization” were all recorded during the study.
In addition, the participants reported increased sexual interest and functioning, which supports the potential activity of R. rosea to ameliorate burnout’s impairment on sexual function.
Resveratrol supplementation improves arterial stiffness in type 2 diabetics
Toho University (Japan), August 18 2022.
A randomized, double-blind study reported in the International Heart journal found improvements in arterial stiffness and oxidative stress among type 2 diabetics who were supplemented with resveratrol.
The trial included 50 diabetic men and women who received 100 milligrams resveratrol or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI, a novel diagnostic measure of arterial stiffness that is a marker of atherosclerosis) and blood pressure were assessed at the beginning and end of the study, in addition to blood assessments of oxidative stress and other factors.
At the end of the study, subjects who received resveratrol had significantly lower blood pressure, less oxidative stress and decreased arterial stiffness in comparison with values obtained at the beginning of the study. Participants who received a placebo experienced no significant changes in these areas.
“The primary finding in the present study was that oral supplementation of resveratrol for 12 weeks decreased CAVI in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” authors Haruki Imamura, MD, and colleagues at Toho University Sakura Medical Center in Japan write. “Many previous studies have demonstrated increased CAVI in atherosclerotic diseases such as acute coronary syndrome and stroke, and these reports indicate that CAVI reflects organic atherosclerosis.”
They suggest that a reduction in oxidative stress may be one mechanism involved in the improvement in arterial stiffness observed in this study among participants who received resveratrol. Improved endothelial function via increased nitric oxide production may be another mechanism.
“Resveratrol may be beneficial in preventing the development of atherosclerosis induced by diabetes,” the authors conclude. “However, a large-scale cohort study is required to validate the present findings.”
Research reveals how physical exercise protects the heart
Through experiments with rats and cells, a study shows that aerobic training reactivates system that helps rid heart cells of dysfunctional mitochondria.
University of São Paulo (Brazil), August 18, 2022
Regular exercise is considered an important form of treatment for heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
The benefits of exercise range from prevention of cachexia -severe loss of weight and muscle mass- and control of arterial blood pressure to improved cardiac function, postponing a degenerative process that causes progressive heart cell death. About 70% of heart failure patients die from the condition within five years.
A study by the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, published recently in the journal Autophagy, helps to elucidate part of the mechanism whereby aerobic exercise protects the sick heart.
“Basically, we discovered that aerobic training facilitates the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria from heart cells,” said Julio Cesar Batista Ferreira, a professor at the Biomedical Science Institute (ICB-USP) and principal investigator for the project which was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)
Mitochondria are the organelles in charge of providing energy to cells. “The removal of dysfunctional mitochondria increases the supply of ATP [adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that stores energy for the cell] and reduces the production of toxic molecules, such as oxygen free radicals and reactive aldehydes, an excess of which damages the cell structure,” he added.
In a previous study, published in PLOS ONE, the group showed through experiments with rats that aerobic training reactivates the proteasome, an intracellular complex responsible for cleansing cells of damaged proteins.
The results also showed that proteasome activity in the heart of a patient with heart failure decreases by more than 50% and that, as a result, highly reactive proteins build up in the cytoplasm, where they interact with other structures and cause heart cell death.
Dietary management of OCD: Study links metabolism and vitamin D status to disease severity
Ordu University (Turkey), August 20, 2022
One carbon metabolism that includes vitamin B12 and homocysteine, plus vitamin D deficiency could all play a role in the onset of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), research suggests.
The study, published in Psychiatry Research, investigated whether vitamin B12, homocysteine folic acid and vitamin D play a role in the cause (aetiology) of childhood OCD.
Led by Erman Esnafoğlu from Ordu University, Turkey, the team noted that one carbon metabolism – which includes vitamin B12 and homocysteine – has been investigated in many psychiatric disorders, while vitamin D has also been considered to contribute in a variety of psychiatric disorders in recent years.
“To the best of our knowledge the role of one carbon mechanism and vitamin D deficiency in children and adolescents with OCD has not yet been investigated,” wrote the Turkish team. “For this reason we aimed to investigate serum vitamin B12, folic acid homocysteine and vitamin D levels in children and adolescents in this study.”
Esnafoğlu and colleagues reported that lower levels of vitamin B12 and higher levels of homocysteine in were found in OCD patients – suggesting that one carbon metabolism plays a role in the onset of the condition.
Furthermore, the team found that low vitamin D levels were linked to OCD, and that vitamin D status in patients had a negative correlation with disease severity.
“This study has demonstrated that there is a significant decrease in vitamin B12 and vitamin D and a significant increase in homocysteine in children and adolescents with OCD,” said the team – noting that vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for development of OCD.
“The findings of this study demonstrated that vitamin B12 and vitamin D levels were significantly lower in patients compared to healthy controls, whereas homocysteine was higher in the patient group,” noted Esnafoğlu and colleagues.