Effects of Green Tea on Preventing Influenza Infection among Healthcare Workers

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Matsumoto K, Yamada H, Takuma N, et al.
Effects of green tea catechins and theanine on preventing influenza infection among healthcare
workers: a randomized controlled trial.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 21;11:15.
Free full text via PubMed Central.

To determine whether taking green tea catechins and theanine can clinically prevent influenza infection, researchers from University of Shizuoka, White Cross Nursing Home, and ITO EN, Ltd. conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 200 healthcare workers from November 9, 2009 to April 8, 2010 in three healthcare facilities for the elderly in Higashimurayama, Japan.

In this first randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of green tea catechins and theanine in the prevention of influenza infection, the authors found that consuming catechin/theanine for 5 months had a statistically significant preventive effect on clinically defined influenza infection and was well tolerated.

The study was supported by a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and a grant from ITO EN Ltd. ITO EN Ltd played a role in providing the experimental supplements.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Inhibitory Activity of Elderberry Extract Against Respiratory Bacterial Pathogens & Influenza A & B Viruses

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Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al.
Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 25;11:16.
Free full text via PubMed Central.

Investigators from Justus-Liebig-University analyzed a standardized liquid extract (Rubini, BerryPharma AG) from black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) for antimicrobial and antiviral activity for infections of the upper respiratory tract.

The article includes a historical review, highlighting references to elderberry as a therapeutic agent by Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Galen, Hildegard von Bingen, Martin Blochwich, and Maud Grieves.

Based on an analysis using “a microtitre broth micro-dilution assay against three Gram-positive bacteria and one Gram-negative bacteria responsible for infections of the upper respiratory tract, as well as cell culture experiments for two different strains of influenza virus,” the authors conclude:

“Rubini elderberry liquid extract is active against human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses, both being clinically import groups of pathogens for which new and alternative therapeutic approaches are needed. In addition, bacterial super-infection during ongoing influenza virus infections complicates the situation for the patient. It would therefore be useful to simultaneously target both foes. The activities shown by the elderberry liquid extract suggest that additional and alternative approaches to influenza infections might be provided by natural products.”

The study was partially funded by BerryPharma AG.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Anti-Diarrheal Mechanism of the Traditional Remedy Uzara

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Schulzke JD, Andres S, Amasheh M, et al.
Anti-diarrheal mechanism of the traditional remedy Uzara via reduction of active chloride secretion.
PLoS One. 2011 Mar 30;6(3):e18107.
Free full text via PubMed Central.

Investigators from Charité, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Ulm University studied the effects on the human colon of the traditional remedy Uzara, a traditional African medicine that has been used to treat diarrhea in Europe for a century.

From the Introduction:

“Uzara originates from the root of the South African plant Xysmalobium undulatum (family Asclepiadaceae) which is also known as wild cotton, milk bush or bitterhout…. X. undulatum has been used internally and externally, as decoction or as root powder, in traditional African medicine. Treated symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, afterbirth cramps, and headache, but also wounds and abscesses. In Germany, Uzara was introduced into the pharmaceutical market in 1911.”

The authors found that Uzara “exerts its antidiarrheal effects through [previously reported] inhibition of intestinal motility and also through effects on the intestinal epithelium via inhibition of active secretion.” They concluded that the data infer that Uzara is “suitable for treating secretory diarrhea caused e.g. by bacterial toxins as well as motility-related diarrhea, but may not be effective against chronic malabsorptive diarrhea” with possible exceptions yet to be studied.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Coffee Drinking and Pancreatic Cancer Risk

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Dong J, Zou J, Yu XF.
Coffee drinking and pancreatic cancer risk: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.
World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar 7;17(9):1204-10.

Free full text via PubMed Central

Investigators from Fudan University, Shanghai assessed the relationship between coffee consumption and incidence of pancreatic cancer in a meta-analysis of cohort studies including 671,080 individuals with an average follow-up of 14.9 years. The authors found that there is an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and risk of pancreatic cancer.

The authors noted that “a reduction in cholesterol, bile acid, and neutral sterol secretion in the colon is a direct effect of coffee consumption as is increased colonic motility, which can reduce exposure of epithelium to carcinogens.”

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Health Benefits Associated with Whole Grains

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Jonnalagadda SS, Harnack L, Liu RH, et al.
Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains–summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium.
J Nutr. 2011 May;141(5):1011S-22S. [Free full text via PubMed Central]

A panel from the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, Cornell University, Tufts University, New Castle University, University of California, and University of Illinois reviewed the evidence regarding the health benefits associated with whole grains.

What are whole grains? “Whole grains are defined by the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA as consisting of the ‘intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain.'”

The panel found that:

“Current scientific evidence indicates that whole grains play an important role in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health. The essential macro- and micronutrients, along with the phytonutrients present in whole grains, synergistically contribute to their beneficial effects. Current evidence lends credence to the recommendations to incorporate whole grain foods into a healthy diet and lifestyle program.”

Still, too many people rely on refined grain products for their diet. One of the authors, Dr. Chris Seal, has a practical suggestion for food shoppers:

“When shopping in a supermarket there will be a range of healthy, nutritious whole grains foods, be sure to get them and beware of spurious imitations. After a little time their taste grows on you and refined foods will no longer satisfy you. Soon, only the ill-informed will avoid whole grains foods. Whole grains are not a luxury, and no house is complete unless they are provided at every meal.”

[Read the full report.]

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants Used by Sabaots of Mt. Elgon, Kenya

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Okello SV, Nyunja RO, Netondo GW, Onyango JC.
Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by Sabaots of Mt. Elgon Kenya.
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009 Oct 15;7(1):1-10
Free full text via PubMed Central

Researchers from Maseno University conducted an ethnobotanical study of medicinal plant species used to manage human ailments by the Sabaot people in Kopsiro Division, Mt. Elgon District, Kenya. The study documented 107 plants reported to be of medicinal value in a forest region that is in danger of being completely destroyed.

From the conclusion:

“Traditional medicine in Kopsiro division offers cheap, accessible and convenient remedy that suits the traditional lifestyle of the local community in comparison to the conventional medicine. Most medicinal plant species reported in this study were found to be under threat and this calls for urgent conservation measures so as to maximize the sustainable use of these vital resources in the study area.”

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal plants used by Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh

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Rahmatullah M, Ferdausi D, Mollik AH et al.
A survey of medicinal plants used by Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh.
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009 Dec 30;7(2):91-7.

Free full text via PubMed Central

Researchers at the University of Development (Bangladesh) and New York City College of Technology conducted an ethnomedicinal survey of traditional healers (Kavirajes) of the Khulna District in southern Bangladesh. The team obtained information on 50 plant species used for a variety of conditions including skin diseases, intestinal tract disorders, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, animal and snake bites, diabetes, leprosy, and sexually transmitted diseases, impotence, heart disorders and helminthiasis.

Noting that many of the medicinal plants are gathered in the Sunderbans mangrove forest, which is under great threat by deforestation, the authors urge that modern scientific studies of these plants be conducted as soon as possible, to make possible discoveries of novel pharmacologically active compounds and also to provide incentive for preservation of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Leviathan – The Fish, the Slaughter, the Captain

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Leviathan
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel 2012
France/UK/USA
NYFF50: Main Slate
Venue: Alice Tully Hall
Sat, Oct 13

With: Brian Jannelle, Adrian Guillette, Arthur Smith, Asterias vulgaris, Callinectes sapidus, Christopher Swampstead, Cleona celata, Clyde Lee, Declan Conneely, Fulmaris glacialis, Gadus morhua, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, Homarus americanus, Johnny Gatcombe, Larus marinus, Larus argentatus smithonianus

Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel (Foreign Parts) – artist-filmmakers from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnographic Lab – team up for a “visually and sonically explosive” excavation of the world’s most dangerous profession: the commercial fishing industry. Possibly the boldest film of the year, Leviathan gives the lie to the phrase “immersive cinema.”

The first half-hour, we have no idea what we’re looking at, our surest point of reference in the darkness is the soundscape by Ernst Karel.

Clang of metal. Spots of color. High seas. Snaking cords. Unbelievable racket. We’re underwater in an alien environment. An assault.

Visibility improves as we find ourselves in a fish hold. The fish don’t look so good. Some are exploded. Eyes bulging. Men cull them, gutting the best. Bloody work. One man lights cigarettes for all to keep hands at work. Brutally hard work. Unceasing racket. Despite long takes, we can never understand the actual tedium. Do they think about us eating seafood in restaurants?

The camera is pelted by fish, and finally buried under them. The ship vomits blood and guts into ocean. A feast for carrion birds.

Drowning camera comes up for air into abstract, terrifying beauty. Sky and sea are indistinguishable. A green-hulled ship breaking the waves.

Leviathan was filmed on six trips, each lasting a couple of weeks. The team lost their main camera at sea, replaced with about a dozen small GoPro cameras, which record light with an abstract, surreal beauty, and allow shared authorship with fishermen and nature. A new way of thinking and moving through space. Recorded sounds through the cameras are almost organic, like they are gasping for air.

In the seas where Melville’s Pequod gave chase to Moby-Dick, Leviathan documents the end of the binary documentary relationship – us and them – and a new distribution of the authorial process.

The fish. The slaughter. The captain.

You just have to go through it.

“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? Or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? Shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? Or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? Or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.”

Job 41 (King James Version)

NYFF: http://www.filmlinc.com/nyff2012/films/leviathan
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2332522/

Update: US Distributor – Cinema Guild (2013)

Kinshasa Kids

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Kinshasa Kids
Marc-Henri Wajnberg 2012
Belgium/France
NYFF50: Main Slate
US Premier

11 October 2012
Venue: Walter Reade Theater

Cast: Jose Mawanda, Rachel Mwanza, Emmanuel Fakoko, Gabi Bolenge, Gauthier Kiloko, Joel Eziegue, Mickael Fataki, Samy Molebe, Bebson Elemba, Papa Wemba, Josephine Nsimba Mpongo.

Kinshasa Kids opens with a bloody village exorcism designed to remove evil spirits of “child witches” (shegués). One boy (Jose Mawanda) escapes in the nick of time, eventually making his way to the Congolese capital.

Built from stories told to writer/director Wajnberg by local street kids (as many as 30,000 children live on Kinshasa’s streets, many if not most have been banished as shegués), this fiction/documentary hybrid follows Jose and an indefatigable group of kids who are determined to make music and get rich. Huddling together at night and hustling pennies by day, they latch onto rapper/impresario/wild man Babson (Bebson Elemba), who guides them through the Kinshasa music scene (including a cameo with real-life music legend Papa Wemba and a show-stopping Mozart Requiem) as Wajnberg follows with his handheld (eliciting cat-calls from bystanders, “The white man is filming us!”). No spoilers here about the outcome!

Rachel Mwanza glows among a winning cast (she also won the Best Actress Prize in Berlin and Tribeca for her work in Rebelle/War Witch).

The soundtrack is hot – supposedly there is a CD looking for a distributor.

NYFF: http://www.filmlinc.com/nyff2012/films/kinshasa-kids
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2379332/