Pharmacology

Eastern and Oriental medicine practitioners have long said that Ashwagandha, an herb commonly used in the 5,000-year old practice of Ayurvedic medicine, helps fight disease when used in combination with a liquid known as anupana. Anupana may be derived from many different substances, from olive oil, to beer, to ghee.

Each liquid is thought to have different properties, so an Ayurveda practitioner selects an anupana that has the qualities that best fit a given situation. Traditionally, one method of administering Ashwagandha and milk was to boil them together.

A team of American researchers is examining whether drinking whole cows’ milk with the herb can increase the body’s white blood cells, which help boost immunity. They have found that it does.

When you put yeast on Prozac, do you observe any side effects? Off-target effects of psychiatric drugs are a big problem, and researchers have been eager to identify the cellular processes that are responsible for these side effects. Often the cellular process involved in the drug's the main effect is known, but what causes the side effects is not well known. To get at this issue, a group of researchers at the University of Toronto tested the effects of 214 psychoactive drugs on yeast. Why yeast? When it comes to the most basic cellular processes, yeast have the same ones we do, and in yeast it is easier to identify what parts of the cellular machinery are being affected by the drug. Even better, yeast don't have any of the sophisticated neurological machinery we have. That neurological machinery is the main target of these drugs; since that main target is absent in yeast, scientists can focus purely on the off-target drug effects.
New research from The University of Western Ontario reveals how the brain processes the 'rewarding' and addictive properties of nicotine, providing a better understanding of why some people seemingly become hooked with their first smoke. The research, led by Steven Laviolette of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry could lead to new therapies to prevent nicotine dependence and to treat nicotine withdrawal when smokers try to quit.

The researchers found one brain pathway in particular uses the neurotransmitter 'dopamine' to transmit signals related to nicotine's rewarding properties. This pathway is called the 'mesolimbic' dopamine system and is involved in the addictive properties of many drugs of abuse, including cocaine, alcohol and nicotine.

Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center have found that approximately one in ten U.S. children uses one or more cough and cold medications during a given week. These findings appear in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Pediatric cough and cold medications are widely marketed in the U.S. but surprisingly little is known about just how often they are used in children. This information is especially important in light of recent revelations that cough and cold medications are responsible for serious adverse events and even deaths among children.

COLD-fX, a patented extract of North American ginseng, discovered by a team of 25 University of Alberta scientists, is Canada's top selling cold and flu remedy for adults. It has been approved by Health Canada for use by adults and the FDA has cleared its sale as a new dietary ingredient (NDI) for adults in the U. S.

Positive findings of a safety study involving children and COLD-fX show promise for its future development for kids as a Canadian cold and flu remedy. The results appear in the August, 2008 issue of Pediatrics.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled Canadian trial which was conducted in collaboration with the University of Alberta in Canada was designed to measure the safety and tolerability of COLD-fX for treatment of cold and flu in children.

It's a Catch-22 of the highest order. People with alcohol problems often use alcohol to get to sleep -- but it actually keeps them from getting good-quality sleep all night long.

At the same time, they're highly likely to suffer from full-blown chronic insomnia that keeps them from getting enough sleep night after night – and that condition has been shown to cut their chances of getting sober again.

Meanwhile, their doctors aren't likely to prescribe them insomnia medications, because most sleeping pills can be habit-forming or have adverse effects due to an alcohol-damaged liver.

Creatine, a popular nutritional supplement renowned for enhancing athletic performance and muscle strength, does not improve exercise outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study. The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study provided the most powerful evidence to date that the effect of creatine (Cr) supplementation was negligible at best among these patients.

"We have evidence to suggest Cr uptake into muscles [in COPD patients] but are unable to explain why an increase in muscle Cr did not enhance training," wrote the study's lead author, Sarah Deacon, M.D., specialist registrar at the Institute for Lung Health at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England.

The results were published in the first issue for August of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine by the American Thoracic Society (ATS).

Lovastatin, a drug used to lower cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular disease, has been shown to improve bone healing in an animal model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The research, reported today in BMC Medicine, will be of great interest to NF1 patients and their physicians.

Many NF1 patients suffer from bowing, spontaneous fractures and pseudarthrosis (incomplete healing) of the tibias (shinbones). Mateusz Kolanczyk from Stefan Mundlos' laboratory in the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, led a team that investigated lovastatin's ability to prevent pseudarthrosis in a new animal model of human NF1 disease.

An enriched extract of Boswellia serrata (the 'Indian Frankincense' herb) has been proven to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Research published today in Arthritis Research & Therapy has shown that patients taking the herbal remedy showed significant improvement in as little as seven days.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis; it commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, along with the hands, wrists, feet and spine. The symptoms include pain, stiffness and limited movement. This randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of 70 patients will be of great interest to sufferers, especially those who don't get adequate relief from existing treatments.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Key Thought Leaders Explore Critical Next Steps for AIDS Vaccine Research at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

Today, they write, AIDS vaccine research is at a pivotal moment. Just ten months ago, the second AIDS vaccine candidate to reach late-stage testing failed. In the wake of this disappointment, some skeptics have argued that an AIDS vaccine may not be possible and that resources dedicated to its development should be directed instead towards treating HIV-infected individuals.