Pharmacology

If you're a man and have Lou Gehrig's Disease - Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - there is good news if you drink caffeine.   Antioxidants, such as in coffee, can help.   The bad news is you still have ALS and there is no caffeine benefit for women found so far.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a fatal disease that damages key neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes progressive paralysis of voluntary muscles and often death within five years of symptoms. Although ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) was discovered over a century ago, neither the cause nor a cure have been found, but several mechanisms seem to play a role in its development, including oxidative stress.
Runners clutching bottles of energy drink are a common sight, and it has long been known that sugary drinks and sweets can significantly improve athletes' performance in endurance events. The question is how? 

Clearly, 'sports' drinks and tablets contain calories. But this alone is not enough to explain the boost, and the benefits are felt even if the drink is spat out rather than swallowed. Nor does the sugary taste solve the riddle, as artificial sweeteners do not boost performance even when they are indistinguishable from real sugars.
Soy aglycons of isoflavone (SAI), a group of soybean constituent chemicals, have been shown to promote health in a rat model of the menopause. The research in  Nutrition&Metabolism shows how dietary supplementation with SAI lowers cholesterol, increases the anti-oxidative properties of the liver and prevents degeneration of the vaginal lining.

'Herbal' doesn't always mean safe and buying diet pills on the internet seems like a higher order of risky behavior but people still do it.   Herbal supplement use has continued to rise as people have become aware that some natural products may be superior to synthetic ones, meaning a boost in reported herbal supplement use from 2.5% of people in 1990 to 18.6% in 2002.   

Herbal supplements with references to "traditional medicine" or "natural components" are widely exempt from FDA regulation because they don't contain ingredients in quantities that can do any harm but a new study tackles Chinese diet capsules that claimed to be purely herbal but nonetheless contain synthetic substances in concentrations far above the therapeutic range and may be a cause of poisoning.
Smokers who do not want to quit right now but would like to at least reduce their smoking are twice as likely to stop smoking in the long-term if they use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help them cut down gradually, according to research published on bmj.com. 

The research is the first of its kind to focus on sustained smoking abstinence using NRT for smokers who have no immediate plans to stop smoking.
Carbohydrates are tough molecules to build because of their complicated, branched structure. So instead of trying to build carbohydrates from scratch, scientists today use molecules isolated from nature, a painstaking process that could take months.

Speaking at the ACS meeting in Salt Lake City, Peter H. Seeberger, Ph.D., described development of an automated carbohydrate synthesizer, a device that builds these intricate molecules in a few hours — rather than the months or years required with existing technology.
Tobacco isn't exactly famous for its health benefits, though the mental health effect of a Fonseca and a port after a nice steak is well-documented, but now scientists have succeeded in using genetically modified tobacco plants to produce medicines for several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including diabetes.
The increasing frequency of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is alarming.  Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University believe they may have found a solution to this seemingly losing battle.  Professor Vern L. Schramm and team have developed antibiotic compounds that do not lead to microbial resistance over time.
Most people consume far too much salt, and a University of Iowa researcher has discovered one potential reason we crave it: it might put us in a better mood.

UI psychologist Kim Johnson and colleagues found in their research that when rats are deficient in sodium chloride, common table salt, they shy away from activities they normally enjoy, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains.

"Things that normally would be pleasurable for rats didn't elicit the same degree of relish, which leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression," Johnson said.
Ecstasy may help suffers of post-traumatic stress learn to deal with their memories more effectively by encouraging a feeling of safety, says new research.

Studies have shown that a type of psychological treatment called exposure therapy – where the patient repeatedly recalls the traumatic experience or is repeatedly exposed to situations that are safe but still trigger their traumatic feelings – can be effective in relieving stress responses in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxious conditions. The therapy works by helping the patient to re-learn the appropriate response to the trigger situation, a process known as extinction learning.