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Data spanning more than 11 years suggest that testosterone injections could be a novel treatment for obesity in men. The results show that long-term testosterone therapy may be comparable to weight loss surgery, with a lower risk of complications.

Over 42% of adults in the United States have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity has links to several chronic health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Recent findings that obesity may also worsen outcomes in COVID-19 have encouraged some governments to create entirely new public health strategies to encourage people to lose weight.

However, obesity is a complex issue with both medical and social causes, and achieving lasting weight loss can be challenging for many people. This means researchers are looking for new strategies to help treat obesity — beyond merely cutting calories.

Data recently presented at the virtual European and International Congress on Obesity support the use of testosterone therapy to treat men with obesity.

Long-term testosterone treatment reduced body weight by 20% on average.

11 years of data

The pharmaceutical company Bayer and Gulf Medical University in the United Arab Emirates led the research, using 11 years’ worth of data.

The researchers collected data since 2004 of 471 men with functional hypogonadism, or low testosterone production, and obesity from a German urological practice.

Around 58% of the men received an injection of testosterone every 3 months for the duration of the study, while the remainder chose not to have the treatment and therefore acted as controls. The average age of the participants was 61.57.

Medical staff administered and documented all injections at a doctor’s office, which assures that all participants received the treatment in a consistent manner. No participants dropped out of the study.

20% bodyweight reduction

The men who received testosterone lost on average 23 kilograms (kg) (equivalent to 20% body weight) during the study period, while those who did not receive treatment gained an average of 6 kg.

Body mass index (BMI) correspondingly decreased by an average of 7.6 points in those who received testosterone therapy, compared with an increase of 2 points in the control group.

Waist circumference, which is a risk factor for cardiometabolic disease, decreased by an average of 13 centimeters (cm) in the treatment group, compared with a 7 cm increase in the control group.

The testosterone-treated men also had less internal (visceral) fat by the end of the study period. They may have had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not receive treatment.

Overall, 28% of men in the control group had a heart attack, and 27.2% had a stroke during the study period. There were no major cardiovascular events in the men who received testosterone therapy.

Likewise, while more than 20% of the control group developed type 2 diabetes during the study period, nobody in the treatment group developed the condition.

Commenting on the results, Farid Saad of Bayer said: “Long-term testosterone therapy in hypogonadal men resulted in profound and sustained […] weight loss, which may have contributed to reductions in mortality and cardiovascular events.”

An alternative to surgery?

The researchers also presented data specific to men who were eligible for bariatric surgery. This is a surgical treatment for obesity, which encompasses gastric band, gastric bypass, and gastric sleeve surgery.

Rates of bariatric surgery are on the rise in the U.S., with more than 250,000 people undergoing weight loss surgery in 2018 alone.

Although bariatric surgery is a proven means of achieving weight loss, there are serious risks associated with the surgery, which does not always have positive outcomes.

This part of the study included 76 men with class 3 obesity (a BMI of 40 or above), making them eligible for bariatric surgery. Of these, 59 received testosterone treatment and lost 30 kg on average.

The BMI of the men also reduced by an average of 10 points, which could be enough to take them out of the highest obesity class, provided their BMI was less than 50 to begin with.

According to Saad, these results suggest testosterone therapy could be as effective as surgery for weight loss — but without the risk of serious complications.

“We believe testosterone therapy should be discussed with patients as an alternative to surgery and should be considered for male patients who cannot undergo surgery.” – Farid Saad, Consultant in Medical Affairs Andrology, Bayer AG

This study is based on data exclusively from men, and all participants had clinically low testosterone levels. Scientists need to conduct further studies to validate the use of this approach in other populations.

A study links the consumption of ultra-processed foods with the shortening of the body’s telomeres.

Telomeres are structures located at the ends of our chromosomes. Although they contain no genetic information themselves, they preserve the integrity of chromosomes by keeping their ends from fraying, much as shoelace tips protect the laces.

Telomeres become shorter and less effective over time as chromosomes replicate. Scientists view them as markers of an individual’s biological age at a cellular level.

New research indicates that eating ultra-processed foods is linked to the accelerated shortening of telomeres and cell aging.

The researchers, from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, presented their findings at this year’s European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) in September.

The findings also feature in a study paper in The Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Lucia Alonso-Pedrero, who is a doctoral researcher at this university, led the study.

The rise of ultra-processed foods

The consumption of ultra-processed foods, or UPFs, is on the rise worldwide. UPFs are manufactured food products comprising the building blocks of naturally occurring foods: protein isolates, sugars, fats, and oils.

However, while their components are often extracted from natural sources, UPFs ultimately contain no, or very little, in the way of whole foods.

The companies that produce UPFs often add flavorings and emulsifiers for taste, as well as colorings and other cosmetic additives to achieve the desired appearance. UPFs are nutritionally poor and often unbalanced.

UPFs are highly profitable for their producers due to their inexpensive ingredients, cost effective manufacturing processes, and long shelf life in stores. What makes them so attractive to consumers is their convenience and their relative imperishability.

Previous research has not conclusively established a link between UPFs in general and telomere length (TL). However, researchers have noted associations between TL and alcoholsugar-sweetened beveragesprocessed meats, and foods high in saturated fat and sugar.

Other research indicates a UPF connection to several serious conditions, such as obesityhypertensiondepressionmetabolic syndrome, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. However, these conditions also tend to be age-related and thus difficult to associate definitively with the consumption of UPFs.

UPFs and telomere length

The NOVA system classifies foods according to the degree of processing that their production involves, as opposed to their nutritional content. The goal of Alonso-Pedrero and her colleagues was to investigate the effect of UPF consumption in older adults using NOVA as a means of categorizing the foods that they consumed.

The researchers began their analysis with data from the SUN project, which the University of Navarra is conducting with other Spanish universities. The ongoing study began recruiting in 2000 and includes volunteers over the age of 20 years. Participants are required to fill out and return questionnaires every 2 years.

In 2008, all SUN participants over the age of 55 years took part in a genetic study that forms the foundation of the new research. A total of 886 individuals — 645 men and 241 women — provided saliva samples for DNA analysis and self-reported their daily food consumption. Their average age was 67.7 years.

The team sorted the participants into four groups of equal size, or quartiles, according to the number of UPF servings that they consumed daily:

  • low: under 2 servings
  • medium-low: 2–2.5 servings
  • medium-high: 2.5–3 servings
  • high: more than 3 servings

In terms of telomeres, Alonso-Pedrero and her colleagues detected a clear correspondence between TL and the consumption of UPFs.

The likelihood of shortened telomeres increased dramatically with the number of UPF servings, starting with the medium-low group. That group was 29% more likely to exhibit reduced TL, while the medium-high group was 40% more likely to do so. Those in the high group were 82% more likely to have shortened telomeres.

The study’s authors write:

“In this cross-sectional study of elderly Spanish subjects, we showed a robust strong association between UPF consumption and TL. Further research in larger longitudinal studies with baseline and repeated measures of TL is needed to confirm these observations.”

The researchers also made a number of general observations regarding those who consumed more than 3 servings of UPFs per day. People in this quartile:

  • were more likely to have diabetes, a family history of cardiovascular disease, and abnormal blood fats under their skin
  • were the participants most likely to snack between meals
  • consumed less protein, carbohydrate, fiber, fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and other micronutrients

Individuals who ate more UPFs were less likely to adhere to a healthful Mediterranean diet. In exchange, they consumed more fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages, cholesterol, fast food, and processed meats.

The study authors also found that those who consumed higher amounts of UPFs were more likely to experience depression — especially when they were less active physically.

Finally, the findings linked the consumption of UPFs to excessive body weight, hypertension, and all-cause mortality.

Scientists have made four major advances in search cures for hangover, diabetes, coughs and colds and drug resistant germs.

New researches showed that honey is more effective than antibiotics for curing coughs and colds as insect wings inspired new ways to defeat drug-resistant germs.

Also, scientists claim cheap drug containing L-cysteine can alleviate dreaded nausea, headaches and anxiety. They have also created insulin-making pancreatic cells that escape disease’s attacks, can be transplanted into patients

Honey has long been a folk remedy for an irritating cough, sore throats and the common cold. But research now showed that honey is more effective at treating these ailments than antibiotics or over-the-counter medication.

Experts at Oxford University, United Kingdom (U.K.), said doctors should tell patients to have a spoonful of honey rather than prescribing antibiotics, which can fuel antimicrobial resistance.

They reviewed studies, which compared the effectiveness of honey against cough suppressants, antihistamines and painkillers when treating upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms – which include a cough and cold.

Overall, honey was found to be ‘superior’ at relieving coughs, sore throats and congestion – and unlike other medications it had no harmful side effects.

Honey was on average 36 per cent more effective at reducing cough frequency than common medications and it cut cough severity by 44 per cent more.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

Not all old wives’ tales stand up to scientific scrutiny. But a spoonful of honey really does seem to relieve a cough.

This is firstly because it contains hydrogen peroxide, which gives it anti-microbial properties. Due to this, it has been used in traditional medicine as a topical antibiotic for centuries.

And secondly, because it is thick and sticky, honey has a soothing effect on the throat that can reduce irritation and help relieve a dry, tickly cough.

In addition to eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon, honey can be served with lemon in tea.

There was also evidence honey reduces the time it takes to recover from URTIs by up to two days.

“Honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in combined symptom score, cough frequency and cough severity,” the study in the British Medical Journal said.

Meanwhile, scientists have revealed how nanomaterials inspired by insect wings are able to destroy bacteria on contact.

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are natural bacteria killers, a phenomenon that has spurred researchers searching for ways to defeat drug-resistant superbugs.

New anti-bacterial surfaces are being developed, featuring different nano-patterns that mimic the deadly action of insect wings, but scientists are only beginning to unravel the mysteries of how they work.

In a review published in Nature Reviews Microbiology, researchers have detailed exactly how these patterns destroy bacteria — stretching, slicing or tearing them apart.

Lead author, RMIT University’s Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova, said finding non-chemical ways of killing bacteria was critical, with more than 700,000 people dying each year due to drug-resistant bacterial infection.

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are covered in tiny nano-pillars, which were the first nano-patterns developed by scientists aiming to imitate their bactericidal effects.

Since then, they’ve also precisely engineered other nano-shapes like sheets and wires, all designed to physically damage bacteria cells.

Bacteria that land on these nanostructures find themselves pulled, stretched or sliced apart, rupturing the bacterial cell membrane and eventually killing them.

Ginger CREDIT: DiabetesUK

The new review for the first time categorises the different ways these surface nano-patterns deliver the necessary mechanical forces to burst the cell membrane.

The researchers said producing nanostructured surfaces in large volumes cost-effectively, so they could be used in medical or industrial applications, remained a challenge.

Meanwhile, scientists claim to have found a cure for hangovers in the form of a pill, which can be bought for as little as 15p (N75).

It contains a chemical called L-cysteine, one of many amino acids already present in the body and also used to extend the shelf life of bread.

Researchers tested the tablet on a group of men who were ordered to drink alcohol for several hours on six different occasions.

Men given the pill reported fewer hangover symptoms of nausea, headache, stress and anxiety compared to men given a placebo, results showed.

The researchers claim that if the pill helps to reduce stress and anxiety, people are less likely to drink again to brush off the hangover — otherwise known as ‘hair of the dog’.

L-cysteine tablets can be bought online for around £15 ($20)/N7,700 for a pack of 100 — the equivalent of 15p (20 cents)/N75 per capsule.

L-cysteine — often sold as a dietary supplement — is deemed important for its role in making proteins within the body, and boosting other metabolic functions.

It can be made naturally in the body and is also found in high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, cheese, eggs and seeds.

The Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai found pears, lime, cheese, tomato, cucumber, black tea and green tea boosted enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

These have the ability to wipe out acetaldehyde, which builds up when you drink alcohol.

The following boosted one enzyme: buttermilk, probiotic drink; wheat; mace, turmeric, ginger; and coconut water, dates, cocoa.

The following foods were found to decrease the activity of both enzymes, and therefore are best to be avoided when you have a hangover: milk; oats, peanuts, millet, sorghum, maize; pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, cassia; vitamin C, coffee, eggs, commercial anti-hangover product.

The study, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, recruited two dozen volunteers who were aged between 21 and 60.

According to the study results, L-cysteine was found to have reduced or eliminated hangover symptoms of nausea, headache, stress and anxiety to a “statistically significant level”.

The scientists noted that all L-cysteine tablets contained other vitamins, like B1 and C. They could not rule out that these had some sort of effect.

Meanwhile, researchers claim clusters of insulin-producing pancreatic cells that can be given to type 1 diabetics could be the first step towards a cure.

From stem cells, a team at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, United States (U.S.), created beta-like cells that produce insulin in response to glucose.

When these cells were transplanted into diabetic mice, controlled blood glucose and the rodents didn’t need to be given immunosuppressive drugs.

The treatment is experimental and in early stages of testing, but scientists believe that its powerful effect could be a game-changer in the treatment of diabetes.

For the new study, published in Nature, the team focused on how to grow these beta-like cells in an environment similar to the human pancreas.

They found another protein-coding gene, WNT4, turns on a switch that allows the beta-like cells to attain their fully functional state that mimic islets in the pancreas.

To prevent immune rejection, they used the protein PD-L1, which keeps immune cells from attacking non-harmful cells in the body.

“By expressing PD-L1, which acts as an immune blocker, the transplanted organoids are able to hide from the immune system,” said first author Dr. Eiji Yoshihara, a former staff scientist at the Salk Institute.

When these completed clusters were transplanted into diabetic mice, they controlled blood glucose control and were not attacked by the immune system.

The team hopes to conduct more experiments in mice and prove that it’s safe for humans as well.

“We now have a product that could potentially be used in patients without requiring any kind of device,” Evans said.

A new technique that grows insulin-producing cells and can protect them from immune attack after they are transplanted may offer new hope for treating some people with diabetes.

In type-1 diabetes, the body turns on itself and attacks the so-called beta cells inside clusters in the pancreas called “islets”.

These beta cells are responsible for gauging sugar levels in the blood and releasing insulin to keep them stable. Without them, diabetics must rely on insulin injections or pumps.

One treatment devised to end that reliance involves transplanting donor islets into diabetics, but the process is complicated by several obstacles, including a shortage of donors.

Islets also often fail to connect with blood supply, and even when they do, like other transplants, they can come under attack by the recipient’s immune system, which views the cells as invaders.

As a result, patients have to take drugs that suppress their immune systems, protecting their transplant but potentially exposing the rest of their body to illness.

In a bid to overcome some of these challenges, a team looked to find another source for islets, by coaxing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to produce what the team called HILOs, or human islet-like organoids.

These HILOs, when grown in a 3D environment mimicking the pancreas and then turbocharged with a “genetic switch”, successfully produced insulin and were able to regulate blood glucose when transplanted into diabetic mice.

“In the past, this functionality was only achieved after a month-long maturation in a living animal,” said Ronald Evans, director of the Gene Expression Lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

“This breakthrough allows for the production of functional HILOs which are active on the first day of transplantation, placing us closer to clinical applications,” Evans, who led the study, told AFP.

– Giving hope –
Having found a potential way to solve the supply chain problem, the scientists then sought to tackle the issue of immune rejection.

They focused on something called PD-L1, a so-called checkpoint protein that is known to inhibit the body’s immune response.

In cancer treatments, medication is sometimes used to block PD-L1, boosting the body’s immune response to cancer cells.

The team effectively reversed that process, and induced the HILOs to express the protein in a bid to outwit the immune system.

“Normally, human cells placed in a mouse would be eliminated within a day or two,” said Evans.

“We discovered a way to create an immune shield that makes human cells invisible to the immune system.”

While HILOs transplanted into mice without the PD-L1 protection gradually stopped functioning, those induced to express the protein were shielded and continued to help diabetic mice regulate their blood glucose for more than 50 days.

Being able to grow insulin-producing cells and protect them from attack “brings us much closer to having a potential therapy for type-1 diabetic patients,” Evans said.

Around 422 million people worldwide were living with diabetes by 2014, according to the World Health Organization, a figure that includes both type-1 and type-2 diabetes.

Islet transplantation is generally considered as a treatment for type-1 diabetics, whose disease is the result of an auto-immune response.

Evans cautioned that the research, already a decade in the making, was still years from being able to treat diabetes in humans.

“To advance HILOs into the clinic, we need to confirm that they work in other animal models, including primates, as well as do longer-term studies in mice,” he said.

He hopes that human studies of the technique will be possible in two to five years.

“This is a hard-to-manage disease and insulin is not a cure,” he added, noting that 1.6 million children and teenagers are living with type-1 diabetes in the United States alone.

“Good science is not just a discovery — it can enrich the world and give hope to those who live with disease.”

Scientists have continued to advance efforts to identify and validate plants and natural products with antiviral properties, especially against the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV2).

Nigerian researchers have identified ginger, garlic, onion, bitter kola, alligator pepper, black seed, turmeric, bitter leaf, zinc and vitamin C to have the capacity to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The study titled “Frugal Chemoprophylaxis against COVID-19: Possible preventive benefits for the populace” was published in the International Journal of Advanced Research in Biological Sciences.

The researchers from Departments of Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State; University of Lagos, Lagos State; and Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, led by Dr. Teibo John Oluwafemi, concluded: “…The pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection, is associated with aggressive inflammatory responses which uncontrolled inflammation inflicts multi-organ damage leading to organ failure, especially of the cardiac, hepatic and renal systems and most patients with this infection who progressed to renal failure eventually death.

“In this review, some medicinal foods were elucidated, which include ginger, garlic, onion, bitter kola, alligator pepper, black seed, turmeric, bitter leaf, zinc and vitamin C which possess potent pharmacological activities which include anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-pyretic properties, inhibition of viral replication properties against the symptoms displayed by SARS-COV-2 infection. These frugal medicinal foods offer great chemoprophylaxis benefits and can play potent roles in the prevention and curtailing of the community spread of COVID-19 as it enhances boosted immunity and defense of the body system as a result of its cost effectiveness and availability.

“We hereby recommend that further research should be done to evaluate the protective roles of these medicinal foods on COVID-19 infection as well as promote the development of drugs and improved plant medicines as this outcome can prepare the global populace against subsequent global outbreak of viruses.”

Also, another research found that curcumin, a natural compound found in the spice turmeric, could help eliminate certain viruses.

A study published in the Journal of General Virology showed that curcumin could prevent Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) – an alpha-group coronavirus that infects pigs – from infecting cells. At higher doses, the compound was also found to kill virus particles.

Infection with TGEV causes a disease called transmissible gastroenteritis in piglets, which is characterised by diarrhoea, severe dehydration and death. TGEV is highly infectious and is invariably fatal in piglets younger than two weeks, thus posing a major threat to the global swine industry. There are currently no approved treatments for alpha-coronaviruses and although there is a vaccine for TGEV, it is not effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

To determine the potential antiviral properties of curcumin, the research team treated experimental cells with various concentrations of the compound, before attempting to infect them with TGEV. They found that higher concentrations of curcumin reduced the number of virus particles in the cell culture.

The research suggests that curcumin affects TGEV in a number of ways: by directly killing the virus before it is able to infect the cell, by integrating with the viral envelope to ‘inactivate’ the virus, and by altering the metabolism of cells to prevent viral entry.

Lead author of the study and researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Bioengineering, Dr. Lilan Xie, said: “Curcumin has a significant inhibitory effect on TGEV adsorption step and a certain direct inactivation effect, suggesting that curcumin has great potential in the prevention of TGEV infection.”

Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the replication of some types of virus, including dengue virus, hepatitis B and Zika virus. The compound has also been found to have a number of significant biological effects, including antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activities. Curcumin was chosen for this research due to having low side effects according to Xie. They said: “There are great difficulties in the prevention and control of viral diseases, especially when there are no effective vaccines. Traditional Chinese medicine and its active ingredients are ideal screening libraries for antiviral drugs because of their advantages, such as convenient acquisition and low side effects.”

The researchers now hope to continue their research in vivo, using an animal model to assess whether the inhibiting properties of curcumin would be seen in a more complex system. “Further studies will be required, to evaluate the inhibitory effect in vivo and explore the potential mechanisms of curcumin against TGEV, which will lay a foundation for the comprehensive understanding of the antiviral mechanisms and application of curcumin” said Xie.

Meanwhile, the researchers from Departments of Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State; University of Lagos, Lagos State; and Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, reviewed some medicinal foods, leafs and spices that has chemoprophylaxis and potent pharmacological activities which include anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-pyretic and inhibition of viral replication properties against the SARS-COV-2 symptoms and elucidated their bioactive compounds with their mechanism of action and suggested possible preventive roles they play in the abating the spread of the COVID-19 and reduce the cases globally in a bid of raising the immune system function and possible abate the development of symptoms and general health function.

The researchers said frugal chemoprophylaxis, using natural products and foods were considered due to some factors which include readily available, cost effective as well as economical provident due to the current state of the global economy and as such foods, herbs and spices that are already known globally are considered.

They presented the preventive potentials of some medicinal foods, natural products and their role in mitigating as well as abating the community spread of COVID-19 globally and enhancing immune system function.

Top on their list is alligator pepper/grains of paradise (Aframomum melegeuta). According to the study, alligator pepper is one seed with many healing power and of great benefits to mankind. The seeds of the plant are used to flavour foods and as components of traditional African medicine. Alligator pepper has been reported to have anti-ulcer, anti-microbial, anti-nociceptive, anti-plasmodial, hepato-protective and anticancer activities. Aframomum melegueta is mixed with other herbs for the treatment of common ailments such as body pains, diarrhoea, sore throat, catarrh, congestion and rheumatism in Nigeria. Diabetes, a major underlying disease of people afflicted with COVID-19 might also be combated by Aframomum melegueta.

A myriad of compounds found in Aframomum melegueta such as 6-paradol, 6-shagaol, 6-gingerol, oleanolic acid and acarbose exert an anti-diabetic effect by inhibiting enzymes such as α-amylase and α-glucosidase. These enzymes are responsible for digestion and break down of carbohydrates and polysaccharides from food into simple sugars to increase blood glucose levels. Among the compounds, 6-gingerol and oleanolic acid are more effective in inhibiting the enzymes.

Aframomum melegueta is suitable for consumption by diabetic patients; its consumption will help a diabetic patient stay healthy. The ethanolic seed extract and stem bark of Aframomum melegueta contains phytochemicals such as tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpernoids, cardiac glycosides and alkaloids that possess antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds, which are natural antioxidant, are believed to scavenge free radicals and offer protections against viruses, allergens, microbes, platelet aggregation, tumours, ulcers and hepatotoxins (chemical liver damage) in the body. To support this claim of anti-inflammatory properties of Aframomum melegueta Ilic et al. reported that ethanolic Aframomum melegueta extract inhibited cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Compounds that inhibit COX-2 activity are capable of reducing inflammatory responses. The most active COX-2 inhibitory compound in the Aframomum melegueta extract was [6]-paradol, while [6]-shogaol was found to inhibit expression of a pro-inflammatory gene, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β).

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) belongs to the family of ginger (Zingiberaceae) and natively grows in India and Southeast Asia. The plants rhizomes contain several secondary metabolites including curcuminoids, sesquiterpenes, and steroids with the curcuminoid curcumin being the principal component of the yellow pigment and the major bioactive substance. It has been used as traditional medicine from ancient time, especially in Asian countries. Plants as a rich source of phytochemicals with different biological activities including antiviral activities are in interest of scientists. It has been demonstrated that curcumin as a plant derivative has a wide range of antiviral activity against different viruses. Inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) enzyme due to rate-limiting activity in the de novo synthesis of guanine nucleotides is suggested as a therapeutic target for antiviral and anticancer compounds.

Among the 15 different polyphenols, curcumin through inhibitory activity against IMPDH effect in either noncompetitive or competitive manner is suggested as a potent antiviral compound via this process.

Furthermore, protein molecules encoded by the SARS-CoV-2 genome are potential targets for chemotherapeutic inhibition of viral infection and its replication. These intriguing targets include the spike protein (S), which mediates the entry of the virus, the SARS-CoV-2 main protease (3CL protease), the NTPase/helicase, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, the membrane protein (M) required for virus budding; the envelope protein (E) which plays a role in coronavirus assembly and the nucleocapsid phosphoprotein (N) that relates to viral RNA inside the virion and possibly other viral protein-mediated processes. With such a drastic increase in molecular and biochemical information about various components of the SARS-CoV-2 and their cellular targets, it is important and timely to again evaluate anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities of various turmeric phyto-compounds. It is to be noted that in vitro studies have positively demonstrated effective antiviral properties of curcumin against enveloped viruses such as Dengue virus (DENV), influenza virus and emerging arboviruses like the Zika virus (ZIKV) or chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which are similar to the SARS-CoV-2 an enveloped virus.

Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) commonly called bitter leaf is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Vernonia that has about 1,000 species of shrubs. Bitter leaf is a seedless plant, green in colouration with a characteristic odour and bitter taste. It has different names such as ‘Omjunso’ in East Africa especially Tanzania, ‘Ewuro’ in Yoruba, Etidot (Ibibio), Ityuna (Tiv), Oriwo (Edo), Chusa-dokiShiwaka (Hausa), and ‘Omubirizi’ in southwestern Uganda.

Vernonia amygdalina is known as food and medicinal plants used in Asia and Africa (West Africa) due to its pharmacological effects which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetes, anticancer, anti-malaria etc. One major properties of considering Vernonia amygdalina in the management of COVID-19 is its antioxidants property. Antioxidants inhibit deleterious effects of free radicals that are capable of deteriorating lipid biomembranes in the human body.

Researchers in the field of medical sciences have observed free radical scavenging ability and antioxidant property in Vernonia amygdalina. Vernonia amygdalina has been documented to possess antioxidant properties, which correlates to its medicinal properties. Antioxidant activities of bioactive compounds isolated from Vernonia amygdalina leaves have been established from various studies.

Farombi and Owoeye (2011) observes phytochemicals compounds such as saponins and alkaloids, terpenes, steroids, coumarins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, xanthones, anthraquinones, edotides, sesquiterpenes extracted and isolated from Vernonia amygdalina to elicit various biological effects in humans including cancer chemoprevention. The chemoprophylaxis properties of Vernonia amygdalina was attributed to their abilities to scavenge free radicals, induce detoxification, inhibit stress response proteins and interfere with DNA binding activities of some transcription factors.

Nigella sativa, commonly known, as black seed is native to Southern Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia and it is cultivated in many countries in the world like Middle Eastern Mediterranean region, South Europe, India, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Nigella sativa is regarded as a valuable remedy for various ailments, the seeds, oil and extracts have played an important role over the years in ancient Islamic system of herbal medicine. Bukhari reported that Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told, “There exists, in the black grains, health care of all the diseases, except death”.

Many studies have been carried out to affirm the acclaimed medicinal properties emphasized on different pharmacological effects of N. sativa seeds such as antioxidant, anti-tussive, gastro protective, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory and anti-tumor properties, hepatoprotective effect, protective effects on lipid peroxidation, antibacterial activity, antiviral activity against cytomegalovirus have been reported for this medicinal plant.

It should be noted that the seeds of N. sativa are the source of the active ingredients of this plant.

Thymoquinone (TQ), dithymquinone (DTQ), which is believed to be nigellone, thymohydroquinone (THQ), and thymol (THY), are considered the main phytochemicals of the seed.
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Nigella sativa seeds contain other ingredients, including nutritional components such as carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, mineral elements, and proteins, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. The potential immune-modulatory and immunotherapeutic potentials of Nigella sativa seed active ingredients, most especially TQ will show a promising therapy in managing COVID-19 virus.

Ginger, with the botanical name Zingiber officinale is a commonly used spice and belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. Its local names are Ata-ile, Jinja, and Cithar among the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa folks of Nigeria. Commonly, ginger can be found in subtropical and tropical Asia, Africa, Far East Asia, China, and India. It can be used as a component in curry powder, sauces, ginger bread, and ginger-flavoured carbonated drinks and also in the preparation of dietaries for its aroma and flavour. Investigations reveal that ginger possesses several biological properties such as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative, antimicrobial, neuro-protective, cardiovascular protective, antidiabetic and anti-nausea, antiemetic activities and chemo-protective effects.

Its main bioactive components are 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol which are phenolics, thus accounting for its various bioactivities.

Till date, there are no antiviral therapeutics that specifically target human corona viruses, and thus completely eradicating the pandemic. Even though several potential vaccines have been developed, such as recombinant attenuated viruses, live virus vectors, or individual viral proteins expressed from DNA plasmids.

However, none have been yet approved for use. The limitation with the use of vaccines is a propensity of the viruses to recombine, thereby posing a problem of rendering the vaccine useless and potentially increasing the evolution and diversity of the virus into a more virulent form. It therefore implies that a preventive approach could be a better option.

Possible Mechanism of action of ginger against Corona virus: Virus–receptor interactions play a key regulatory role in viral host range, tissue tropism, and viral pathogenesis. Many α-coronaviruses utilise amino-peptidase N (APN) as their receptor, SARS-CoV and HCoV-NL63 use angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as their receptor, MHV enters through CEACAM1, and the recently identified Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) binds to dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP4) to gain entry into human cells. Following receptor binding, the viruses then proceeds into the cytosol of the host.

A possible mechanism of preventing access of the viruses into the host’s cell could be the inhibition of microbial binding to cellular receptors. In the antimicrobial mechanism of ginger, inhibition of receptor binding has been identified as a major mechanism.

Hitherto, ACE-2 has been associated with an obscure function, not until in recent times with the widespread of COVID-19. It is now established as a protein being recognised by various corona viruses to gain entry into hosts cell, suggesting it to be a therapeutic target in the treatment of the disease.

The researchers noted: “We propose that both ACE receptor antagonism and agonism can be an effective mechanism of ginger in its chemo preventive strategy against corona viruses. This claims are supported by a recent report of Cava et al. who demonstrated through computational methods that anti-ACE 2 compounds could be effective in blocking the replication of SARS-CoV variant.

“Moreover, Huentelman et al. also used docking methods to predict the inhibitory ability of small molecules against ACE 2 enzymes, and possibly inhibiting SARS corona virus S protein mediated cell fusion, and high binding affinity was scored. In addition, different bioactive compounds in ginger have been shown to have different effects on ACE2. One mechanism is through ACE 2 inhibition.

“A study by Alu’datt et al. in the bid to evaluate the anti-hypertensive activity of ginger, demonstrated that its methanolic extract has excellent inhibitory activity on ACE 2 at an extraction temperature and time of 400C and six hours respectively. To further corroborate our hypothesis, 3-3’-digallate, a phenolic compound present in ginger was found to interact with ACE2 receptor in recent computational modelling studies. Taken together, we suggest that the intake of ginger might be beneficial for both prevention and treatment of the pandemic COVID-19. Ginger is able to inhibit ACE-2, thereby preventing the binding of the corona virus to the protein.”

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a widely consumed spice in the world, and it contains diverse phytochemicals such as organosulphur compounds, saponins, phenolic compounds, and polysaccharides. However, its major bioactive compounds are the organosulphur compounds including allicin, alliin, diallylsulphide, diallyldisulphide, diallyltrisulphide, ajoene, and S-allyl-cysteine. It has been reported that garlic and its constituents exhibit different bioactivities such as anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, reno-protective, anti-atherosclerotic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antihypertensive activities.

The researchers noted: “From the foregoing, worthy of relevance to our subject matter among the bioactivities of garlic is its antiviral properties. We suggest that this could be due in part to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative abilities. The antiviral potential of garlic extracts has been demonstrated against influenza virus and entero-virus, herpes simplex type 2, dengue virus, Infectious Bronchitis virus, Newcastle Disease virus etc.

“Major challenges in treating viral diseases are the development of resistance in the virus against the antiviral drugs, due to the high mutation rate of the viral RNA Polymerase and some of the antiviral drugs can also induce negative side effects in the body. Therefore, it is necessary to find alternative therapies in natural plants and their products, out of which garlic stands out significantly, because of its robust pharmacological bioactive components as stated above. Below is a possible mechanism of action of garlic for the prevention and treatment of the human corona virus.

“…Interestingly, allicin and quercetin, which are bioactive compounds of garlic were found to exhibit inhibitory action on the COVID-19, thereby demonstrating similar binding affinity when compared to other potent peptide inhibitors such as Nelfinavir and lopinavir in an in silico study of protein-protein docking.

“Furthermore, it was demonstrated by Weber et al. that treatment of different bioactive components of garlic against different viral strains led to the inhibition of viral adsorption or penetration. Taken together, we suggest that through this mechanism, garlic could prevent the attachment of the corona virus to the host’s cellular machinery.”

Cholesterol is a fatty wax-like substance present in all the cells of the body and it is also in transit in the blood. In fact, to test for the level of cholesterol in the body, you have to do a blood test. Usually, the body produces all the cholesterol it needs. There are occasions where the liver produces cholesterol in response to reduced blood cholesterol in cases of dehydration.

Functions of cholesterol
Cholesterol plays a role in many vital functions of the body. It is a precursor in the production of all sex hormones in the body. It is also involved in the manufacture of bile salts and other substances that help the body to digest foods, especially fatty foods. Cholesterol is needed in the production of vitamin D in the skin exposed to sunlight. In water therapy, we understand that cholesterol plays a very significant role in water redistribution when the body is dehydrated.

Types of cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol that we are interested in here in this article. These are the High Density Lipo-protein (HDL)-cholesterol/good cholesterol and the Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL)-cholesterol/bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is not water-soluble and therefore it cannot dissolve in and be transported by the blood. It has to bind to lipoproteins before it can be transported in the blood. Two types of lipoproteins that bind cholesterol are low density (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). When cholesterol is bound to LDL, it is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol and when it is bound to HDL, is referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol.

Low-density lipoprotein transports cholesterol to the tissues where it can increase the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke. On the other hand, HDL-cholesterol reduces the risk of heart diseases and other complications because it transports cholesterol from the tissues to the liver where it is metabolized, used in the production of bile salts and excreted.

The LDL to HDL ratio is very important. This ratio will determine whether cholesterol will be deposited in the tissues and increase the risk of heart disease or transported to the liver for metabolism and production of bile salts. As we shall see later in this article, the risk of heart disease can be reduced drastically by lowering LDL-cholesterol, while at the same time you raise the HDL-cholesterol. This is what we must have in mind in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.

Normal Blood Levels of Cholesterol
• Total Cholesterol – less than 200 milligrams/deciliter
• LDL Cholesterol – less than 130 milligrams/deciliter
• HDL Cholesterol – more than 35milligrams/deciliter
• LDL to HDL ratio – less than 4:5.

Hypercholesterolemia
This is a state of excessively high cholesterol in the blood.
An unhealthy lifestyle is by far the commonest cause of high cholesterol in the blood. This lifestyle will include eating unhealthy and ‘dead’ foods such as saturated fats in some types of meat, white flour and its products (baked foods), dairy products, chocolates, deep-fries and fast foods cooked with bad fats. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise lead to a lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Another habit, which lowers HDL – cholesterol is smoking. It also increases LDL (bad) cholesterol. Hypercholesterolemia may be inherited and some medications may also cause it.
Risk factors of hypercholesterolemia are age, race, heredity, obesity, cigarette smoking etc.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are widely distributed in nature and they play very important roles in human diet and the metabolic processes that goon in the human body.

There are three types of omega 3 that are commonly involved in the workings of the human being and these are; a-linolenic acid (ALA) which is usually sourced from plants and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are found in cold water fish. Flaxseed is the commonest plant source of ALA. It can also be found in walnut, almonds and hemp seed. Sources of omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA are cold water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardine etc. they can also be found in chickens and their eggs.

Human beings do not synthesize these fatty acids so all they need has to be sourced from their diet. Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA are the forms in which fatty acids are utilized in the body. However, omega 3 fatty acid ALA from plant sources can be converted to the usable EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 fatty acids lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. These fatty acids, whether from plants or fish oils, reduce the ability of platelets to stick together and thus prevent clot formation. When platelets stick together, (aggregate), they release potent compounds that promote the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. They can also form blood clots that can block small arteries in the heart or the brain where they give rise to heart attack and stroke respectively.

Continuous consumption of omega 3-rich foods as shown above will prevent the formation of plaques and blood clots and prevent these heart diseases. There are also supplements of these health foods that can be bought from Health Food Shops to add to these natural products.

Findings from a new study suggest that inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables may be a major factor in heart disease death.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.

A diet that includes fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and improve digestive health.

Previous research — part of the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study — confirmed that a diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables can even lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

After analyzing these results and combining them with findings from other studies, researchers estimated that the risk of heart disease is 20 per cent lower among individuals who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, compared with those who eat fewer than three servings per day.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommend that adults eat at least 1.5 to two cups per day of fruit and two– three cups per day of vegetables. According to another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only around one in 10 adults meet these guidelines.

Now, a new study — the results of which the researchers presented at Nutrition 2019, the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Baltimore, MD — suggests that a low fruit intake can cause one in seven deaths from heart disease, and that a low vegetable intake can cause one in 12 deaths from heart disease.

Analyzing data from 2010, researchers found that low fruit consumption resulted in almost two million deaths from cardiovascular disease, while low vegetable intake resulted in one million deaths. The global impact was more significant in countries with a low average consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The data suggest that low fruit consumption results in more than one million deaths from stroke and more than 500,000 deaths from heart disease worldwide every year, while low vegetable intake results in about 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from heart disease per year.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world,” says study co-author Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA. The researchers tracked the death toll by region, age, and sex using diet surveys and food availability data of 113 countries. They combined these with data on causes of death in each country and data on the cardiovascular risk linked to low fruit and vegetable intake.

The findings showed that fruit intake was lower in South Asia, East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, while vegetable consumption was lower in Central Asia and Oceania. Countries in these regions have low average fruit and vegetable intakes and high rates of deaths from heart disease and stroke.

When the researchers analyzed the impact of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption by age and sex, they found that the biggest impact was among young adults and males. Miller adds that females tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like , and legumes — a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health.”

Exercising women who struggle to consume enough calories and have menstrual disorders can simply increase their food intake to recover their menstrual cycle, according to a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, and publication in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

The study found that exercising women with menstrual disorders can start menstruating again by consuming an additional 300-400 calories a day.

“These findings can impact all exercising women, because many women strive to exercise for competitive and health-related reasons but may not be getting enough calories to support their exercise,” said lead researcher Mary Jane De Souza, Ph.D., of Penn State University.

By consuming enough calories, exercising women with menstrual disorders can avoid complications associated with a condition known as the Female Athlete Triad, De Souza said. This is a medical condition that starts with inadequate food intake that fails to meet the body’s needs. It leads to menstrual disorders and poor bone health. It is associated with a high incidence of stress fractures.

The study included 62 young, exercising women with infrequent menstrual periods. Thirty-two women increased their calorie intake an average of 300-400 calories a day, and 30 maintained their exercise and eating habits for the 12-month study. Women who consumed the extra calories were twice as likely to have their menstrual period during the study compared with the women who maintained their regular exercise and eating routine.

“This strategy is easy to implement with the help of a nutritionist. It does not require a prescription and avoids complications from drug therapy,” De Souza said. “The findings will encourage healthcare providers to try to help exercising women with menstrual disorders who consume too few calories to eat more, and this may help them to be healthier athletes and avoid bone complications.”

A colourful and fresh spread of grilled eggplant/aubergine with salad, herb butter and mashed butter beans. A balanced and healthy meal for vegans, vegetarians or vegetable lovers!

Plant-based diets support healthy aging and could significantly reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, finds a new review.

Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. A 2017 report estimated that 6% of U.S. consumers eat a vegan diet, up from just 1% in 2014.

There are many reasons why people choose to adopt a vegan diet, including avoiding harm to animals and mitigating the environmental impact of intensive farming.

A plant-based diet also provides health benefits. This diet is higher in fiber and lower in cholesterol and fat than an omnivorous diet, and it scores higher on the Healthy Eating Index.

A new review of the evidence on plant-based diets suggests that they may also protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease and could reduce cardiometabolic-related deaths in the U.S.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Washington, DC, led the review, which features in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

An aging world

The review focuses on health in the context of aging, an important topic given that the world’s population is rapidly getting older.

“The global population of adults 60 years old or older is expected to double from 841 million to 2 billion by 2050, presenting clear challenges for our healthcare system,” explains first author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research for the PCRM.

Dr. Kahleova and her team reviewed both clinical trials — which researchers perform under controlled conditions, usually to test the effect of a specific intervention on a particular outcome — and epidemiological studies, which follow people over time under normal conditions.

They found evidence that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Specifically, they found that plant-based diets could halve the risk of metabolic syndrome, which increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating a plant-based diet could also halve the risk of type 2 diabetes itself, as well as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease events, such as a heart attack, by 40%.

‘Blue Zones’

People who eat plant-based diets may also live longer. The authors refer to so-called Blue Zones, where people live longer than the average. Examples include Loma Linda, CA, where people live up to 10 years longer than other people in California, and Okinawa, Japan, which has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world.

As well as not smoking and engaging in moderate physical activity, people in Blue Zones tend to have a mostly plant-based diet. In Okinawa, for example, people consume a diet high in sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, and soy products.

As well as living longer, people who eat a plant-based diet may also remain cognitively healthy for longer.

The authors found one study which showed that the MIND diet — which is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds but does not exclude animal products — reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The team found that the DASH diet, which is similar to the MIND diet, and the Mediterranean diet were also associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A cost effective approach

Although aging is inevitable, the authors say that adopting a healthful, plant-based diet could help delay the aging process and reduce the risk of age-associated diseases. It could also increase a person’s life expectancy.

“[S]imple diet changes can go a long way in helping populations lead longer, healthier lives.” Dr. Hana Kahleova, Ph.D.

This conclusion is in line with the findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, which showed that a low intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and a high intake of red and processed meats are major risk factors for disease.

The authors say that as well as offering significant benefits for health, plant-based diets could reduce healthcare costs in the U.S., which are close to $3.5 trillion each year. They suggest that a healthful diet is a cost effective approach to preventing disease and recommend incorporating it into everyday life.

A new study shows that a compound in pickled capers activates channels that are important for the activity of the heart and brain. The findings could potentially lead to the design of new drugs for epilepsy and arrhythmia.

People have practiced traditional or folk medicine — which the Western world generally considers alternative medicine — for centuries, and it remains the mainstay of healthcare in many countries.

Much traditional medicine relies on the use of plants, which have been the basis of medical treatments for thousands of years. Sometimes, researchers examine this traditional knowledge, interpret it in modern scientific terms, and then translate it into Western medicine.

Aspirin, for example, comes from willow plants and has played a role in medicine since ancient Egyptian times, long before people understood its mechanism of action.

A new study from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine shows a similar story for capers, which people around the world consume and also use in traditional medicine.

The study, which appears in Communications Biology, finds that a compound in pickled capers activates potassium channels that regulate the activity of the heart and brain.

The researchers say that their findings could aid the design of new drugs for epilepsy and arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms).

A food with ancient origins

The authors of the study note that humans have been eating capers for more than 10,000 years. Findings in soil deposits in Syria and late Stone Age cave dwellings in modern day Greece and Israel have shown this to be true.

The ancient Roman cookbook “Apicius” also mentions capers. People continue to use them in traditional medicine for their antihelminthic, anticancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties and their possible circulatory and gastrointestinal benefits.

The research team behind the current study has now shown how capers act on the body, which includes activating a potassium channel important for heart and brain activity.

The researchers started looking at capers based on the results from a screen of plant extracts. They screened a range of extracts for activity on a family of potassium channels called KCNQ channels.

The KCNQ family of potassium channels plays several important roles in the body, including regulating the heartbeat, the contraction of muscles, and the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Their dysfunction is associated with certain diseases, including diabetes, arrhythmia, and epilepsy.

The importance of pickling

The researchers used an extract from pickled capers, the most common form in the United States, and found that a 1% extract was able to activate the channels.

The pickling process causes the formation of quercetin, which is the compound that activates KCNQ channels.

Further experiments with quercetin found that it binds to a part of the channels responsible for sensing electrical activity. This binding causes the channels to open when they would otherwise be closed, which may underlie the medicinal properties of capers.

Although capers are the richest natural source of quercetin, the authors note that other plant-derived compounds, such as E-2-dodecenal (present in cilantro), are more potent activators of KCNQ channels.

However, the authors also found that these compounds can work together. So, while eating capers alone may not have a significant effect, eating them together with other specific foods, such as cilantro, could increase their benefits.

Quercetin is also very common in food, being present in apples, berries, celery, chili peppers, and onions, as well as green tea and red wine. The compound may, therefore, accumulate in the body over time to provide benefits. Research has also shown that adding quercetin to food is safe, although this practice does not currently exist in the U.S.

Drugs to treat epilepsy and arrhythmia

Outside of food, the researchers say that their findings could help medicinal chemists design new drugs.

“Increasing the activity of KCNQ channels in different parts of the body is potentially highly beneficial. Synthetic drugs that do this have been used to treat epilepsy and show promise in preventing abnormal heart rhythms.” – corresponding author Geoffrey Abbott, Ph.D.

Researchers are also investigating capers for their potential benefits against cancer, diabetes, and various inflammatory, circulatory, and gastrointestinal diseases. Understanding how capers act on the body on a molecular level could, therefore, lead to a wide range of new treatments.