Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

The Power of Flowers May Ease Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Participating in a flower-arranging course may improve both pain and psychiatric symptoms for patients with fibromyalgia, new research suggests.

The findings highlight the potential benefits of floristry as occupational therapy to improve the quality of life of patients with fibromyalgia.

Coinvestigator Howard Amital, MD, head of the Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, and professor of medicine at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, noted that flower arranging is particularly effective because it’s a “multistimulation therapy.”

It affects different senses that “all coincide and produce a very positive effect on the patient,” Amital told Medscape Medical News.

He added that it’s important for clinicians to hear about nonpharmacologic therapies for fibromyalgia, which is why he sought to have the study published in a medical journal.

The findings were published online in the July issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal.

Creating Bouquets

Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic, widespread pain and fatigue and is often accompanied by somatic syndromes such as irritable bowel and migraines. Patients may also present with mood and anxiety disorders.

Worldwide, fibromyalgia affects 2% to 4% of the population. It mostly affects women.

Little is known about the pathogenesis of the syndrome, so treatments primarily focus on alleviating pain and improving quality of life. Experts recommend a multimodel approach that includes aerobic exercise and cognitive-behavioral therapy in addition to pharmacologic regimes.

The current observational study included 61 adult female patients (mean age, 51 years) who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

The women completed a 12-week flower design course that included weekly sessions under the supervision of a trained florist. The participants learned to create flower bouquets that they could take home.

Two consecutive groups participated in the study. The first group participated from week 1 to week 12, and the second, from week 12 to week 24.

At baseline, 12 weeks, and at study completion (week 24), the researchers measured a number of fibromyalgia disease-activity indices. Assessment tools included the 36-item Short Form Survey (SF-36), the Brief Pain Impact Questionnaire (BPI), the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), tender-point count, and the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ).

The study also assessed depression, using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), and anxiety, using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA).

The two groups were similar with regard to mental and physical health at baseline, but the VAS score was significantly higher in group 1, the first group to complete the course, than in group 2 (mean, 8 vs 7, respectively; P = .01).

There were no between-group differences in use of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or pregabalin (Lyrica, PF Prism CV). However, the participants in group 1 reported significantly higher use of cannabis (46.7% vs 13.3%; P = .010).

‘Quite Amazing’

Results showed statistically significant improvements in the SF-36 physical and mental health components, VAS scores, FIQ scores, and HAMA and HDRS scores for the entire study population (all, P < .05), which Amital said is “quite amazing.”

However, tender-point counts remained unaffected, which was not surprising, Amital noted. Tender points “are not discriminatory enough” and reflect a limited aspect of the syndrome, which also includes unrefreshing sleep, fatigue, and cognitive impairment, he added.

When evaluating the groups separately, the researchers found a significant improvement in all study measures except tender-point count during the course. There was a slight decline in improvement in group 1 after their course ended (weeks 12 to 24), but the measurements did not return to starting levels.

“These study participants still kept the positive effect,” said Amital.

However, he added that, as with any intervention, especially for patients with fibromyalgia, “you need to do maintenance” to preserve the optimal effect.

Participating in a floristry course combines art therapy with exposure to a natural element, flowers, both of which have been shown to be beneficial.

For example, studies have shown that self-expression through creative art therapy alleviates psychiatric symptoms for patients presenting with trauma and depression. Engaging with natural elements — for example, flowers and houseplants indoors and parks and forests outdoors — is believed to promote relaxation, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and improve stress levels and mood.

Amital is now planning to start a flower arranging course for patients with fibromyalgia and other rheumatic conditions at the Sheba Medical Center, which is the largest hospital in Israel.

“I thought it would be a good platform to show that even though it’s a bit different from the conventional way of education and thinking that we physicians are usually exposed to, it does have a positive effect and has no side effects,” he said.

Shows Promise

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, Clayton Jackson, MD, former president of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management and clinical assistant professor of family medicine and psychiatry, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, noted that the study had some limitations, including its small size and its observational, nonblinded design.

However, he said the intervention shows promise, and the results “add to the evidence base that there are multiple interventions that can be helpful for patients with chronic pain.”

Jackson, who was not involved with the research, stressed that fibromyalgia is “particularly problematic” with respect to symptom relief.

“This study is interesting because it’s a non-opioid and nonpharmacological approach to a difficult pain management problem in patients with fibromyalgia,” Jackson said. “Anything nonpharmacological that can be shown to work is incredibly interesting because it might have implications for other pain syndromes.”

Unlike other types of occupational therapy, floral design “might be multisensory in its effect” in fibromyalgia, Jackson added.

“There’s social contact, there’s visual stimulation from the flowers, there’s tactile stimulation of arranging in certain ways, and then there’s potentially an element of aromatherapy, because flowers are aromatic,” he said.

One theory of pain is that “pleasant sensory experiences may help to block unpleasant sensory experiences,” said Jackson.

Amital and Jackson have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Pauline Anderson
August 19, 2019

 

flowers

These 5 tropical plants may ‘provide anticancer benefits’

In a recent study, scientists identified several tropical plants that have anticancer properties.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore, Department of Pharmacy (NUS Pharmacy) spent 3 years investigating the pharmacological properties of local plants.

They found that three species were particularly effective at inhibiting the growth of several cancers, and they have now published their findings in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Despite the widespread use of modern medicine in Singapore, there is a tradition of using local plants to treat various conditions, including cancer.

Cancer is the current leading cause of death in Singapore, where 1 out of every 4–5 people develop the condition at some point in their lives.

A 2017 report by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board stated that the number of people who receive a cancer diagnosis will continue to rise, but that the number of people who survive will also increase as medical technology and cancer care improve.

Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, are undergoing rapid urbanization that is transforming their landscape and culture. Because there is a lack of scientific evidence around the medicinal properties of local plants, the NUS Pharmacy team recognized an urgent need to document any health benefits these plants may provide before the knowledge is lost.

Evidence of anticancer benefits in 5 plants

The team focused on seven plants that people have used as traditional medicines for cancer. They were:

• Bandicoot Berry (Leea indica)
• Sabah Snake Grass (Clinacanthus nutans)
• Fool’s Curry Leaf (Clausena lansium)
• Seven Star Needle (Pereskia bleo)
• Black Face General (Strobilanthes crispus)
• South African Leaf (Vernonia amygdalina)
• Simpleleaf Chastetree (Vitex trifolia)

In the study, the team prepared extracts of “fresh,” “healthy,” and “mature” leaves from these plants and examined their effects on cells from breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical, leukemia, liver, and colon cancers.

Bandicoot Berry, South African Leaf, and Simpleleaf Chastetree had an anticancer effect against all seven types of cancer, according to the researchers. Fool’s Curry Leaf and Black Face General also had protective properties against some cancer cells.

Interestingly, the team found that Sabah Snake Grass was not effective at preventing the growth of cancerous cells, despite many people with cancer in the region using it.

The authors hypothesize that people commonly use Sabah Snake Grass as a traditional medicine because it offers some kind of benefit to people with cancer other than killing cancerous cells.

Implications for new cancer therapies

“Medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of diverse ailments since ancient times,” says lead study author Koh Hwee Ling, “but their anticancer properties have not been well studied.”

“Our findings provide new scientific evidence for the use of traditional herbs for cancer treatment, and pave the way for the development of new therapeutic agents.”

Koh and colleagues add that further research is required to identify the active compounds that provide the anticancer effects associated with these plants. They also caution against people with cancer attempting to self-medicate using these plants without first consulting their doctor.

Recently, Medical News Today looked at some other studies that evaluated the anticancer properties of plants. One of these was a 15-year-long study into a small flowering plant called the Madagascar periwinkle.

Scientists have been aware for more than 60 years that this plant has beneficial properties for people with cancer, but until recently, they had been unable to fully understand or replicate its mechanism of action.

Earlier this month, MNT looked at a study that found that medicinal herbs grown in Mauritius contain chemical compounds that may help treat esophageal cancer.

The authors of that study argued that maintaining global biodiversity is key to ensuring the discovery and development of breakthrough therapies now and in the future.

 

Monday 27 May 2019       By David McNamee
Fact checked by Jasmin Collier


2 Comments

8 Chores With Unexpected Scientific Health Benefits

Why washing dishes, making your bed, dusting, and other common chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease. You’ll never look at your To-Do list the same way again.

Wash dishes: Reduce anxiety

People who cleaned their plates mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature, and touching the dishes) lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent, found a recent study of 51 people out of Florida State University’s psychology department. People who didn’t take as thoughtful approach to their dish washing did not experience a similar calming benefit.

Dust with a lemon cleaner: Be happier

A citrusy scent is a potent mood booster, according to a 2014 Japanese study. When participants spent as little as ten minutes inhaling yuzu (a super-tart and citrusy Japanese fruit), they saw a significant decrease in their overall mood disturbance, a measure of tension, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and anger, PureWow recently reported.

clean-windows-lemon-cleaner
iStock/petek arici

Make your bed every morning: Boost productivity

Your nagging mom was right: Starting your day with a freshly made bed is what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit”; one that has a ripple effect to create other good behavior. In his book, Duhigg notes that making your bed every morning is linked to better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking to a budget. Bedmakers also report getting a better night’s sleep than those who leave their covers messy in the morning, per a National Sleep Foundation poll reported by WebMD.

Clean up your yard: Prevent a heart attack

Need motivation to break out the vacuum cleaner? People who did the most yard work, housecleaning, and DIY projects had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of a first-time cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke compared with those who were the most sedentary, according to a new Swedish study of 3,800 older adults.

Banish kitchen clutter: Lose weight

A recent study showed that people with super-cluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. The likely reason: It’s harder to make healthy food choices in a chaotic kitchen. Organizing guru Peter Walsh, author of Cut the Clutter, Drop the Pounds, has been inside of hundreds of people’s homes. He says once people get finally get organized, they tend to experience a number of other unexpected perks, including weight loss, without strict dieting!

Mow the lawn: Feel more joyful

There’s something to that grassy scent. Australian researchers discovered that a chemical released by freshly cut grass makes people feel more relaxed and more joyful.

Grow flowers and vegetables: Lower depression risk

In a study out of Norway, people diagnosed with different forms of depression spent six hours a week gardening; after a few months, they experienced a notable improvement in their depression symptoms, and their good moods continued for months after the study ended. Doing a new activity and being outside in nature can certainly help, but some experts believe that dirt itself might be a depression fighter, according to Health.com. Christopher Lowry, PhD, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been injected mice with a common, harmless bacteria found in the soil. He’s found that they experience an increase in the “release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood, much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do,” the site reported.

Share chores with your spouse: Have a better sex life

When men perceived their contribution to household chores as fair, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex, according to a 2015 study from the University of Alberta. “If a partner isn’t pulling their weight in housework, either one will have to pick up the slack, or the chores will remain undone. This will develop tension and bitterness in the relationship, which will transfer into the bedroom,” according to MedicalDaily.

By Lauren Gelman

source: www.rd.com