Recent scientific research include:
Fifty patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) were randomised to receive daily supplements of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) (2 capsules, 750mg each) or placebo (2 capsules) for 12 weeks. In addition, all patients were given advice on implementing dietary and physical activity change. Those of cinnamon showed significant improvements in NAFLD characteristics, specifically, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglyceride, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma glutamine transpeptidase, homeostatic model assessment and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (p<0.05, all cases). Both groups showed decreased levels of low-density lipoproteins (p<0.05), whilst no change in serum high-density lipoproteins levels were found. Hence, the study concludes, 1500mg cinnamon was found to be beneficial in improving NAFLD characteristics (see abstract).
Saffron (Crocus sativus, 30mg/day) was shown to be as beneficial as fluoxetine (40mg/day) for patients experiencing mild to moderate depression within 6 months of undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. This was a small randomised controlled trial of 40 patients who received either saffron or fluoxetine for 6 weeks; depression was measured using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the frequency of adverse events (see abstract).
A randomised controlled trial of 90 female students with a diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) compared the effectiveness of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) extract (100mg, 3 times a day) and mefenamic acid (250mg, 3 times a day). After two menstrual cycles, chamomile was found to reduce the intensity of emotional symptoms significantly more than mefenamic acid, however there was no significant difference in the reduction of physical symptoms (see abstract).
A large placebo-controlled randomised trial of 928 residents in long term care facilities, median age = 84 years, showed that residents with a high risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs, n = 516) given cranberry (Vaccinium microcarpum) capsules twice a day for a year had a reduced incidence of clinically defined UTIs, but not strictly defined UTI, compared to placebo. In those patients with a low risk of UTI no significant difference between cranberry and placebo capsules was found (see full text).
IscadorⓇ, Viscum album extract, significantly prolonged overall survival of patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer of the pancreas receiving orthodox treatment, with no adverse events observed. This clinical trial, randomised 220 patients to IscadorⓇ or no anti-neoplastic therapy, concluding that Viscum album extract was a non-toxic, effective secondline therapy to increase overall survival and reduce disease related symptoms (see abstract).
A small randomised crossover controlled trial of 22 older (50-80 years old) and overweight/obese (BMI≥31 kg.m²) individuals investigated the effect of European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) on metabolic markers and glucose homeostasis. Individuals followed an energy restricted diet and were also randomised to receive 3 capsules a day of either GluceviaⓇ, 333mg Fraxinus excelsior extract, or placebo for the first 3 weeks, followed by a week for washout, then a further 3 weeks on the alternative. GluceviaⓇ was found to significantly reduce blood glucose, significant differences were also found with serum fructosamine, plasma glucagon, adiponectin:leptin ratio and fat mass. The study concludes that a Fraxinus excelsior extract combined with a hypocaloric diet may be beneficial for metabolic imbalances associated with impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, obesity and inflammation (see abstract).
An evidence review based on case reports, open-label and placebo-controlled trials in to the effects of herbal medicines on anxiety, insomnia and stress-related symptoms was undertaken to explore the potential use of herbal medicine in patients with bipolar disorder. The review identified eleven herbal medicines: eight of which were considered of potential benefit: Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Hops (Humulus lupulus), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and Gotu cola (Centella asiatica). Whereas, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Kava (Piper methysticum) and Golden root (Rhodiola rosea) were advised against in the case of bipolar disease (see full text).
A systematic review of the effect of green tea (or green tea extract) on blood pressure included 13 randomised controlled trials in a meta-analysis. The review found green tea to significantly reduce both diastolic and systolic blood pressure compared to control. In addition significant reductions in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were identified. Subgroup analysis revealed a greater reduction in blood pressure in studies with participants with a baseline systolic blood pressure ≥ 130mmHg (see abstract).
A meta-analysis of nine randomised controlled trials examining the effects of Brahmi or Indian pennywort (Bacopa monnieri) on cognitive performance and memory, revealed significant improvements on cognition specifically on Trail B test and choice reaction time i.e. speed of attention (see abstract).