Archive for the ‘health’ Category

It was all in our heads

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Seems echinacea is no help for colds. And I believed in it for so long too. I kind of cringe at the thought of all $20 bottles I’ve choked down.
Well, here’s to the placebo effect. From the New England Journal of Med.

Volume 353:341-348 July 28, 2005 Number 4

An Evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in Experimental Rhinovirus Infections
Ronald B. Turner, M.D., Rudolf Bauer, Ph.D., Karin Woelkart, Thomas C. Hulsey, D.Sc., and J. David Gangemi, Ph.D.


Background Echinacea has been widely used as an herbal remedy for the common cold, but efficacy studies have produced conflicting results, and there are a variety of echinacea products on the market with different phytochemical compositions. We evaluated the effect of chemically defined extracts from Echinacea angustifolia roots on rhinovirus infection.

Methods Three preparations of echinacea, with distinct phytochemical profiles, were produced by extraction from E. angustifolia roots with supercritical carbon dioxide, 60 percent ethanol, or 20 percent ethanol. A total of 437 volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either prophylaxis (beginning seven days before the virus challenge) or treatment (beginning at the time of the challenge) either with one of these preparations or with placebo. The results for 399 volunteers who were challenged with rhinovirus type 39 and observed in a sequestered setting for five days were included in the data analysis.

Results There were no statistically significant effects of the three echinacea extracts on rates of infection or severity of symptoms. Similarly, there were no significant effects of treatment on the volume of nasal secretions, on polymorphonuclear leukocyte or interleukin-8 concentrations in nasal-lavage specimens, or on quantitative-virus titer.

Conclusions The results of this study indicate that extracts of E. angustifolia root, either alone or in combination, do not have clinically significant effects on infection with a rhinovirus or on the clinical illness that results from it.

Hunger and Mental Development

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

An excellent article on why Food Aid programs are in all our best interests.

Food for thought
Jul 29th 2004 | DEDZA, MALAWI
From The Economist print edition

Global hunger is on the wane but it is still hampering the growth of people, and of economies

THERE are not enough classrooms at the Msekeni primary school, so half the lessons take place in the shade of yellow-blossomed acacia trees. Given this shortage, it might seem odd that one of the school’s purpose-built classrooms has been emptied of pupils and turned into a storeroom for sacks of grain. But it makes sense. Food matters more than shelter.