Oenothera biennis, commonly known as evening primrose, grows throughout North America and Europe. Oil extracted from the plant and the ripe seeds is an herbal remedy for various health disorders, as well as a nutritional supplement that provides the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can buy evening primrose oil as a bottled oil or in capsules.
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for health, and must be obtained through diet or supplements. GLA is important because some other types of omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation in the body, while GLA decreases inflammation. Some research indicates that evening primrose oil may help relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis when taken as a long-term supplement, according to the American Cancer Society.
Evening primrose oil as an internal supplement also has benefits for several skin disorders. People take this oil to relieve itchiness from dermatitis, rashes and hives. Evening primrose also is beneficial for the itchiness, redness, scaling, oozing and crusting of eczema. Over 30 studies indicate benefits of evening primrose oil for treating eczema and dermatitis, as explained by the UMMC.
Diabetic Neuropathy Benefits
The UMMC notes that evening primrose oil may decrease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a nerve condition causing numbness, tingling or pain in the feet. A study published in the January 1993 issue of Diabetes Care compared patients with mild diabetic neuropathy taking a GLA supplement to those taking a placebo. The authors found that participants taking GLA improved in all 16 study parameters over one year compared to people taking the placebo. The difference was statistically significant for 13 parameters. Parameters included sensation, tendon reflexes, and hot and cold thresholds.
Benefits for Women
Evening primrose oil may be effective at relieving breast tenderness and pain from premenstrual syndrome or other causes, but scientific evidence is mixed, according to the UMMC. Women might also experience some benefits from taking evening primrose oil for other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as bloating and mood swings.
Breast Cancer Treatment
A study published in the March 1, 2000 issue of the International Journal of Cancer indicated that GLA is beneficial as an adjunctive therapy to tamoxifen for treating breast cancer. Patients taking GLA along with tamoxifen experienced a significantly faster clinical response than patients taking tamoxifen alone.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Evening Primrose Oil
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Evening Primrose Oil
American Cancer Society: Evening Primrose
PubMed.gov: GLA with Tamoxifen as Primary Therapy in Breast Cancer
PubMed.gov: Treatment Treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy with GLA
primrose image by Studio Pookini from Fotolia.com
Success as an endurance athlete often means outlasting your competition. Superior endurance comes by way of hard training and adequate nutrition. Sometimes, the demands of your sport pushes your nutritional needs past what your diet alone supplies. Supplements can help fill the gaps in your nutritional program and keep you going strong.
Staying hydrated is an important concern for endurance athletes. Water is used by your body to carry nutrients to muscles, excrete waste and regulate temperature. For activities lasting longer than an hour, sports drinks may keep you hydrated, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which help your body retain water. Sports drinks also provide energy through simple carbohydrates.
Endurance gel, also called energy gel, is a thick, syrupy gel that contains simple sugars and electrolytes. Endurance gels offer a distinct advantage over sports drinks in that they are concentrates, and thus more portable. Endurance gels are sold in single-serve packets that are easily carried without hurting performance. Because the nutrients in energy gels are concentrated, you need to take them with water.
Branched-chain amino acids, often referred to as BCAAs, are amino acids found in high concentrations in muscle tissue. During exercise, BCAAs are often metabolized for energy, breaking down muscle in the process. Supplementing with BCAAs before and after exercise may limit the amount of muscle wasted during exercise, helping you maintain strength and muscle mass throughout hard training.
Caffeine is recognized as a performance enhancer by the American Council on Exercise. Caffeine is a potent neuromuscular stimulant and helps improve awareness and fight fatigue during long-term exercise. Although caffeine is generally regarded as safe, it should still be treated as a drug. Too much caffeine can cause jitters, adrenal fatigue and mood swings. The amount of caffeine in a large cup of coffee is enough to produce noticeable results without adverse side effects in most people.
Just about every child has moments when he is distracted, bursting with energy and climbing the walls. Hyperactive children spend more time than normal in that state and have difficulty calming down. If a child has excessive energy, shows impulsivity, has difficulty paying attention and displays hyperactivity, she may have hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a comprehensive treatment program that includes parenting effectiveness training, use of behavior management strategies and medication. Dietary, nutritional and medical problems can contribute to a child's hyperactivity, so you can also manage your child's hyperactivity through careful supervision of her diet and nutrition.
Hyperactivity poses challenges to children and their providers, and there are many possible contributing causes, so in most cases have your child evaluated by a physician. Your doctor may identify medical problems and may be able to make suggestions to help in dietary and meal planning. Your child's physician should evaluate and rule out nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal exposure, gluten or casein intolerance, food allergies and sensitivities and metabolic problems like celiac disease. You may also consider having a psychologist evaluate your child for developmental or learning disorders.
Nutrition expert Phylis Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," suggests that food allergies or food additive sensitivities can influence the emergence and severity of hyperactivity symptoms. With the help of your pediatrician, use an elimination diet to see if allergies or sensitivities trigger symptoms in your hyperactive child. First, eliminate all potential triggers from his diet. Monitor your child's hyperactivity. After three weeks of no exposure to allergens, reintroduce the potential offending foods back into your child's diet. If your child's hyperactivity returns or increases, eliminate that food from your child's diet. Foods that can trigger hyperactivity in some children include processed foods, foods with dye, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream, and gluten or wheat products including pasta, cereal and bread.
Phylis Balch also recommends that children with hyperactivity should avoid simple carbohydrates such as sugars and starches. Research, such as that of Langseth and Dowd described at ADD ADHD Advances, indicates that children who are diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder have an exacerbation in their hyperactivity symptoms after consuming sugar. Three-quarters of the ADHD children tested positive for reactive hypoglycemia, a condition in which the pancreas releases excessive amounts of insulin following ingestion of sugar. This causes a sudden drop in blood sugar, which in turn triggers a cascade of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. Reduce or avoid starchy and sugary foods such as candy, fried foods, sweetened cereal, soda, bakery, white bread, non-whole wheat pasta and white rice.
Proteins slow digestion and slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This creates stability in blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of reactive hypoglycemia. Further, proteins enhance the level of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, brain chemicals that enhance alertness, attention and concentration, and reduce distractibility. High-protein foods include nuts, legumes, tofu, meats, legumes and cold water fish such as cod, halibut, salmon and tuna.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods provide complex carbohydrates that stabilize blood sugar and enhance metabolic functioning. Complex carbohydrates also complement protein in the production of neurotransmitters, and therefore optimize attention and brain functioning.
Pycnogenol is the trade name for pine bark extract obtained from Pinus pinaster, the French maritime pine tree. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center states that pine bark extract exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as immunostimulant effects, making it beneficial for a variety of health conditions. After extensive study, pine bark extract is considered generally safe and tolerable and poses a low risk of serious side effects, according to the Stanford School of Medicine.
Studies show that pine bark extract has antioxidant properties, according to the American Cancer Society, which may make the supplement useful in preventing and treating cancer. Antioxidants block the action of harmful free radicals in the body. The antioxidant properties of Pycnogenol may also improve blood vessel health, thereby helping with hypertension, diabetic retinopathy, endothelial dysfunction and chronic venous insufficiency, a syndrome associated with edema, pain, itching, varicose veins, and skin ulcers. The University of California Berkley states that Pycnogenol prolongs the life of vitamin C inside the body, which adds to its beneficial effects against free radicals.
The National Institutes of Health states that good evidence exists for the use of Pycnogenol in the treatment of both adult and childhood asthma. The extract's anti-inflammatory properties may also be beneficial for arthritis, sunburn, inflammation associated with injuries, prostate inflammation, systemic lupus erythematosus and allergic reactions. In fact, a study published in the April 2008 issue of the "Journal of Phytotherapy Research" showed that Pycnogenol improved the symptoms of osteoarthritis by 56 percent, and reduced pain as well as traditional anti-inflammatory medications.
Pine bark extract appears to have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, and may improve the function of the immune system. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Pycnogenol may inhibit replication and attachment of the HIV virus, suppress replication of the virus that causes encephalomyocarditis, and impair the growth and adherence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly responsible for digestive illness.
According to the results of a study at Ham-Ming Hospital, Taiwan, which appear in the "Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica" 2007, Pycnogenol may be useful for relieving symptoms associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome. Also, chewing gum and using toothpaste that contains pine bark extract may reduce plaque build-up and gingival bleeding. Additionally, the extract may also help enhance memory in the elderly and improve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Moreover, Pycnogenol may significantly improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction when used along with L-arginine, according to a 2003 study published in the "Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy."
Read more: https://web.archive.org/web/20100628085620/http://www.livestrong.com/article/148165-uses-of-pycnogenol/#ixzz62nJpCi8Q
Ginkgo biloba is one of the most commonly used herbal supplements throughout the world. Ginkgo trees are among the oldest plant species in the world, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Medicinal use of the plant dates back centuries. Extensive research and studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating conditions such as dementia and poor circulation. Memory enhancement can also result from use of the supplement.
How Ginkgo Works
Ginkgo biloba's mechanism of action allows it to improve blood circulation in the body, which in turn allows the eyes, ears, brain and legs to work better, according to RXList. The seeds of the ginkgo biloba plant have properties that make them effective in killing infection-causing bacteria and fungi. Furthermore, it can slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease by altering brain changes that interfere with thinking ability.
Available Forms and Dosage
Ginkgo biloba supplements come in many forms, including capsules, tablets, extracts, tinctures and dried plant leaves that can be steeped to make a tea. Dosage depends on the condition being treated. People using the supplement to improve memory and heart function should take 120 milligrams a day in divided doses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. For patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, up to 240 mg daily in two or three doses is safe.
Ginkgo biloba is generally considered safe, but side effects may develop in some people. The most commonly reported side effects include upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and dizziness, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Some people have also developed allergic reactions such as a rash, but more severe allergic reactions have also been reported.
Some research suggests ginkgo can increase the likelihood of suffering severe bleeding, so people with bleeding disorders should speak with their doctor before using the supplement. In addition, because of this risk, users should stop taking it at least 36 hours before undergoing surgical procedures or major dental work, according to the UMMC. Furthermore, uncooked seeds from the plant contain a seizure-causing compound called ginkgotoxin. Because of this, people with epilepsy and other seizure-causing disorders are advised not to use ginkgo.
Ginkgo biloba supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of certain prescription drugs. For example, anti-seizure medications such as carbamazepine may be less effective, and use of ginkgo with antidepressants classified as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors increases the likelihood of a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome, according to UMMC. The supplement can also interfere with insulin levels and may cause blood pressure to drop dangerously low in people taking medications to help lower blood pressure. Other drugs that may be affected by ginkgo include blood thinners, cyclosporine, thiazide diuretics and trazadone.