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Nicotine in Nightshade Vegetables Linked to a Lower Risk of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder striking 1 percent of our older population and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. While we don’t really know what causes it, we do know that people with a smoking history only appear to have about half the risk. Of course, “[s]moking is hugely damaging to health; any benefit derived from a reduction in risk of Parkinson’s disease is outweighed by the increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease,” as well as lung disease, but this shouldn’t stop us from “evaluating tobacco components for possible neuroprotective effects.”

Nicotine may fit the bill. If nicotine is the agent responsible for the neuroprotective effects, is there any way to get the benefit without the risks?

Well, where does nicotine come from? The tobacco plant. Any other plants have nicotine? Well, tobacco is a nightshade plant, so it’s in the same family as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. And guess what? They all contain nicotine as well.

That’s why you can’t tell if someone’s a smoker just by looking for the presence of nicotine in their toenail clippings, because non-smokers grow out some nicotine into their nails, as well. Nicotine is in our daily diet—but how much? The amount we average in our diet is hundreds of times less than we get from a single cigarette.

So, though we’ve known for more than 15 years that there’s nicotine in ketchup, it was dismissed as insignificant. We then learned that even just one or two puffs of a cigarette could saturate half of our brain’s nicotine receptors, so it doesn’t take much. Then, we discovered that just exposure to second-hand smoke may lower the risk of Parkinson’s, and there’s not much nicotine in that. In fact, one would only be exposed to about three micrograms of nicotine working in a smoky restaurant, but that’s on the same order as what one might get eating food at a non-smoking restaurant. So, the contribution of dietary nicotine intake from simply eating some healthy vegetables may be significant.

Looking at nightshade consumption, in general, researchers may have found a lower risk compared to other vegetables, but different nightshades have different amounts of nicotine. They found none in eggplant, only a little in potatoes, some in tomatoes, but the most in bell peppers. When that was taken into account, a much stronger picture emerged. The researchers found that more peppers meant more protection. And, as we might expect, the effects of eating nicotine-containing foods were mainly evident in nonsmokers, as the nicotine from smoke would presumably blot out any dietary effect.

This could explain why protective associations have been found for Parkinson’s and the consumption of tomatoes, potatoes, and a tomato- and pepper-rich Mediterranean diet. Might nightshade vegetables also help with treating Parkinson’s? Well, results from trials of nicotine gum and patches have been patchy. Perhaps nicotine only helps prevent it in the first place, or could it be that it isn’t the nicotine at all, but, instead, is some other phytochemical in tobacco and the pepper family?

Researchers conclude that their findings will be need to be reproduced to help establish cause and effect before considering dietary interventions to prevent Parkinson’s disease, but when the dietary intervention is to eat more healthy dishes like stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, I don’t see the reason we have to wait.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

By: Dr. Michael Greger   November 22, 2017
About Michael Follow Michael at @nutrition_facts


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How Coconut Oil May Rescue The Brain From Alzheimer’s Disease

By: Sayer Ji, Founder      Sunday, October 27th 2013 at 6:15 pm
Coconut Oil May Rescue The Brain From Alzheimer’s Disease Plaque

The internet loves a good “natural cure” recovery story.  For instance, when Dr. Mary Newport, MD, dramatically reverses her husband’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease after just two weeks of adding coconut oil to his diet, thousands enthusiastically share the story.  But despite their popularity, anecdotes rarely stand the test of time, nor the scrutiny of the medical community, at least not like experimental research published in peer-reviewed biomedical journals. 

All the more reason to celebrate a promising new study soon to be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease titled, “Coconut Oil Attenuates the Effects of Amyloid-β on Cortical Neurons In Vitro.”[i]  The study lends fresh experimental support to an accumulating body of anecdotal reports that coconut oil may alleviate and/or regress cognitive deficits associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

Medical researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada, undertook a pilot study to investigate the effects of coconut oil supplementation directly on cortical neurons treated with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide in vitro.  Aβ peptide is the main component of certain deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease believed to contribute to the disease.

The researchers noted that a recent clinical trial, which we reported on in our article MCT Fats Found in Coconut Oil Boost Brain Function in Only One Dose, reported significant improvements in Alzheimer’s disease patients after 45 and 90 days of treatment with medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil.  They pointed out that this trial led to the marketing of the FDA-approved ‘medical food’ caprylidene (trade name Axona), but that the public has shown greater interest in coconut oil itself as a potential therapy, owing to its far greater affordability and availability.

The researchers sought to test the hypothesis that coconut oil is beneficial for neurodegenerative conditions using a cell model.  Live rat neurons were exposed to various combinations of Aβ peptide and coconut oil, with the result that Aβ peptide reduced survival of neurons and coconut protected against this Aβ-induced reduction in survival time.  The researchers noted that coconut treated Aβ cultured neurons appeared “healthier,” and that coconut oil “rescued” Aβ-treated neurons from mitochondrial damage caused by their toxicity.  The researchers observed coconut oil preventing Aβ-induced changes in mitochondrial size and circularity. These findings have great significance, as mitochondria function is often compromised in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.


According to the researchers, “The rationale for using coconut oil as a potential AD [Alzheimer’s Disease] therapy is related to the possibility that it could be metabolized to ketone bodies that would provide an alternative energy source for neurons, and thus compensate for mitochondrial dysfunction.”  The researchers proposed that ketone bodies formed as a byproduct of coconut oil metabolism may offset Aβ-induced impairment of mitochondrial function and thus energy metabolism.  Considering that the medium chain triglyceride found in coconut known as caprylic acid does cross the blood-brain barrier, and has recently been found to have anti-convulsant, in addition to, ketogenic effects, coconut oil likely does have a neuroprotective effect.[ii]

The researchers concluded, “The results of this pilot study provide a basis for further investigation of the effects of coconut oil, or its constituents, on neuronal survival focusing on mechanisms that may be involved.”

Clearly, one of the ways that coconut oil can ‘rescue’ the brains of Alzheimer’s patients is by addressing the metabolic derangement in the brain associated with the condition, or what is known as “type 3 diabetes.” As the brain ages, it becomes increasingly resistant to insulin, and therefore incapable of using glucose efficiently to meet its significant energy needs — hence the metaphor “type 3 diabetes.” Thankfully, nature has devised an alternative fuel source for the brain that is independent of glucose utilization and the insulin signaling system, namely, the use of ketone bodies.  Coconut oil provides the substrate for the immediate production of these ketone bodies, enabling significant quantities to be produced within a matter of only minutes following ingestion. This metabolic restoration of function may explain why remarkable recoveries in cognitive function and memory have been observed, anecdotally.

Putting the science aside for a moment, coconut, like walnuts, both obey the so-called ‘doctrine of signatures.’ Both foods are encased by a skull-like shell, and contain within a fatty acid-rich ‘meat,’ that feed the organ – the brain – they resemble.  Could the poetry of our direct experience tell us something about the value this food has to our brain, or should we continue to play agnostic and exercise great caution incorporating a ‘food as medicine’ approach until the men in white coats, and powerful economic forces behind them willing to shell out millions, if not billions of dollars, to “prove” in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion something we probably already know is true?
For additional research on the benefits of coconut oil visit our research page on the topic: coconut oil health benefits. Or, visit our neurodegenerative diseases page for dozens of natural substances studied that may help these conditions.

[i] Firoozeh Nafar, Karen M Mearow. Coconut Oil Attenuates the Effects of Amyloid-β on Cortical Neurons In Vitro.
[ii] Wlaz P, Socala K, Nieoczym D, Luszczki JJ, Zarnowska 296 I, Zarnowski T, Czuczwar SJ, Gasior M (2012) Anticon- 297 vulsant profile of caprylic acid, a main constituent of the 298 medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic diet, in mice. 299 Neuropharmacology 62, 1882-1889.


source: www.greenmedinfo.com


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How Turmeric Reduces Oxidative Stress and Supports Your Brain and Heart

June 13, 2013  By Dylan Charles   Mae Chan, Prevent Disease   Waking Times

Curcumin has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential health benefits. It has even been found to outperform pharmaceuticals in preventing disease. Curcumin is a compound found in the spice turmeric which gives it a natural pigment. It has been linked to a range of health benefits, including potential protection against prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, protection against heart failure, diabetes, and arthritis. Two studies add to that mix with benefits for arterial aging and cognition.

The first of the news studies, published in Experimental Gerontology and performed by scientists from the University of Colorado, found that curcumin was associated with improved vascular health in aging lab mice.

Curcumin is a diferuloylmethane derived from turmeric (popularly called “curry powder”) that has been shown to interfere with multiple cell signaling pathways, including cell cycle, proliferation, survival, invasion, metastasis and inflammation.

Adding curcumin to human cells with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his colleagues found, stopped the cells from replicating. And the cells that were left died.

Researchers at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, found that a combination of turmeric and phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) was effective against prostate cancer. PEITC is abundant in a group of vegetables that includes cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, winter cress, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

Intake of curcumin at ‘physiologically attainable’ doses have recently been reported to slow the development of prostate cancers by jamming receptors linked to cancer tumour growth, say researchers.

Supplementing the chow of aged mice with 0.2% curcumin “ameliorates age-associated large elastic artery stiffening, NO-mediated vascular endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and increases in collagen […] in mice”, wrote the researchers, led by Bradley Fleenor.

Study Details

Fleenor and his co-workers gave old mice the equivalent of 14 grams per day of curcumin when compared with a 60 kg person.

“Because of curcumin’s poor absorption and rapid metabolism, clinical trials in humans also have used high doses of curcumin (8 to 12 g) similar to the amount our old mice consumed, while observing only infrequent, minor side effects,” they explained.

“Our results provide the first evidence that dietary curcumin supplementation ameliorates two clinically important markers of arterial dysfunction with aging: large elastic artery stiffening and endothelial dysfunction.

“Given its accessibility and safety, these pre-clinical findings provide the experimental basis for future translational studies assessing the potential for curcumin to treat arterial dysfunction with aging and reduce CVD risk in humans,” they concluded.

Healthy Brain Aging

The second curcumin study, published in Biogerontology and performed by researchers from Selcuk University in Turkey, examined the effects of curcumin on cognitive functions in old female rats.

Lab animals were given either curcumin or corn oil (control) for seven days, and a further five days when they were tested using the Morris water maze.

Results showed that curcumin supplementation decreased the time needed by the animals to reach the platform, and also decreased the total distance traveled by the rats.

“In addition to the behavioral testing, biochemical results showed that MDA levels decreased in brain tissue by curcumin supplementation,” they said. MDA (malondialdehyde) is a marker of oxidative stress.

“It may be concluded that, curcumin supplementation improves cognitive functions by decreasing the lipid peroxidation in brain tissue of aged female rats.”

One of the most comprehensive summaries of a review of 700 turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd. He showed that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects.

Alzheimer’s 

Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.

Arthritis 

Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including sixdifferent COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.

Cancer

Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbookPhytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepato-carcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals. 

Weight Loss

Dietary curcumin can stall the spread of fat-tissue by inhibiting new blood vessel growth, called angiogenesis, which is necessary to build fat tissue. Curcumin-treated groups have been found to have less blood vessel growth in fat tissue. Blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol and liver fat levels also were lower.

Parkinson’s

A team of researchers has now demonstratedthat slow-wriggling alpha-synuclein proteins are the cause of clumping, or aggregation, which is the first step of diseases such as Parkinson’s. A new study led by Ahmad, which appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that curcumin can help prevent clumping.

– Only 1 percent of the elderly in India develop Alzheimer’s disease – this is one-quarter the rate of Alzheimer’s development in North America. This difference is thought to be due in part to regular consumption of curry in India.
– Daily intake of curcumin may decrease the risk of developing polyps in the colon, which in turn, decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
– Regular consumption of turmeric may help to ease pain and inflammation that accompanies arthritis.
– Curcumin may be helpful in the treatment of some cases of cystic fibrosis.
– Curcumin can help to effectively treat skin cancer cells.
– Turmeric may help to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells.

About the Author
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.


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Eating Peppers Tied to Lower Parkinson’s Risk

Vegetables that contain nicotine may offer some protection, research suggests
Learn to read food labels closely, he advises.

By Robert Preidt   HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) – Eating vegetables that naturally contain nicotine, such as peppers and tomatoes, may reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

Previous research has found that smoking and other types of tobacco use are associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and it is believed that nicotine provides the protective effect. Tobacco belongs to a plant family called Solanaceae and some plants in this family are edible sources of nicotine.

This new study included nearly 500 people who were newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and another 650 unrelated people who did not have the neurological disorder, which is typically marked by tremors and other movement problems. The study participants provided information about their tobacco use and diets.

In general, vegetable consumption had no effect on Parkinson’s risk. The more vegetables from the Solanaceae plant family that people ate, however, the lower their risk of Parkinson’s disease. This association was strongest for peppers, according to the study, which was published May 9 in the journal Annals of Neurology.

The apparent protection offered by Solanaceae vegetables occurred mainly in people with little or no prior use of tobacco, which contains much more nicotine than the foods included in the study.

“Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a journal news release. “Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson’s, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.”

Nielsen and her colleagues recommended further studies to confirm and extend their findings, which could lead to ways to prevent Parkinson’s disease.


Although the study found an association between consumption of certain nicotine-containing foods and lower risk of Parkinson’s, it could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, one Parkinson’s expert called the study “intriguing.”

“It provides further evidence of how diet can influence our susceptibility to neurological disease – specifically Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Kelly Changizi, co-director of the Center for Neuromodulation at the Mount Sinai Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center in New York City. “Patients often ask what role nutrition plays in their disease, so it’s very interesting that nicotine in vegetables such as peppers may be neuroprotective.”

Another expert said more research into the role of nicotine in Parkinson’s disease is already underway.

“The observation that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease has long been known, and has raised the idea that nicotine may reduce the risk for [the illness],” said Dr. Andrew Feigin, who is investigating the illness at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

“A nicotine skin patch is currently being tested in patients with early Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

The illness occurs due to a loss of brain cells that produce a chemical messenger called dopamine. The symptoms of the disease include loss of balance, slower movement and tremors and stiffness in the face and limbs. There is currently no cure for the disorder. Nearly 1 million Americans – and 10 million people worldwide – have Parkinson’s, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

source: webmd.com       HealthDay


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Study: Flavonoids May Help Protect Against Parkinson’s

By ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN April 5, 2012

Berries, tea, apples and red wine are all rich in a naturally occurring compound called flavonoids, and a new study finds that men who eat a diet high in these healthy compounds may have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Previous research has shown that regular consumption of flavonoids is linked with reduced blood pressure and inflammation, as well as a lower risk of a variety of diseases, including heart disease, some cancers and dementia. But this is the first study to find that flavonoids may also protect brain cells against Parkinson’s.

Collaborating researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Norwich Medical School looked at 130,000 men and women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study — long-running studies analyzing lifestyle behaviors, including diet, and health outcomes among health care professionals.

More than 800 participants developed Parkinson’s disease over the study’s 20-year follow-up. After adjusting for age and lifestyle, the researchers found that men who ate the most flavonoids were 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s than men who ate the least.

The researchers did not find the same link for women, which was unexpected. “We were surprised to only find effects in men as there is no suggestion of endocrine related mechanisms being involved,” says study author Aedin Cassidy, professor of nutrition at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia. “Interestingly, gender differences have also been observed for other factors involved in Parkinson’s, including caffeine intake, which is only protective in men.”

The findings don’t prove that flavonoids prevent Parkinson’s, since the study found only an association. However, based on his previous research on animals, researcher Dr. Xiang Gao of the Harvard School of Public Health speculates that flavonoids’ protective attributes may stem from their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and their interactions with neurosignaling passageways.

In the current study, Gao says that anthocyanins — a subclass of flavonoids found in berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries as well as vegetables such as eggplant — appeared to be the real disease fighters. Study participants who consumed the most anthocyanins were 24% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who ate the least.

Both researchers are quick to note that their findings need to be confirmed in further studies. “We cannot exclude the possibility of chance,” says Gao. “We should still be cautious and larger, independent and prospective studies should be done.”

But that doesn’t mean you should hold off on an extra helping of blueberries. “For berries, there are no harmful effects and other studies have found they can help with hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” says Gao. “So why not add berries to our diet? “

source: Healthland.Time.com