Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Briefs

Saw Palmetto Reduces Prostate Problems
Men with lower urinary tract problems, such as an enlarged prostate, may benefit from the herbal remedy saw palmetto (Serona repens), according to a study by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center and the Dekalb Clinic, both in Illinois.

In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, researchers initially enrolled 94 men, 45 years and older, who were diagnosed with urinary retention. After a one-month placebo run-in period, researchers randomly selected 85 men to take placebo or 160 mg twice/day saw palmetto (Soloray, supplied by Nutraceutical Corp. of Salt Lake City, Utah) standardized to 85 percent to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols for six months.

Using the International Prostate Symptom Score, the mean score decreased 4.4 points in the saw palmetto group compared with 2.2 points in the placebo group. Although saw palmetto did not significantly improve sexual function or quality of life in this study, it did increase urinary flow rate by 1.0 mL/s compared with 1.4 mL/s in the placebo group.

Researchers concluded that more studies are needed to determine the mechanism that makes saw palmetto effective in treating urinary tract conditions in men.

Editor's note: Study results are valid only for the product and dosage tested. Analysis of saw palmetto supplements released in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of Urology (168:150-154) found that six samples of saw palmetto tested demonstrated "tremendous" active ingredient variability; three samples contained less than 20 percent of the stated dosage.

Pycnogenol Helps Hypertension
A study conducted at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, shows that Pycnogenol, an extract of French maritime pine bark (Pinus maritima), may lower blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers gave 200 mg Pycnogenol to 11 mildly hypertensive patients (average age 50 years) for eight weeks. Patients were in Stage 1 hypertension—a systolic blood pressure range of 140­159 mmHg, and/or diastolic blood pressure range of 90 to 99 mmHg.

Pycnogenol reduced the systolic blood pressure to 134 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure to 94 mmHg in study participants.

"Our research demonstrates Pycnogenol's ability to elevate the production of nitric oxide in the vessel walls to reduce blood pressure and help decrease hypertensive morbidity and mortality," said lead investigator Ronald Watson, Ph.D., of the university's College of Public Health.

Natural Health Sciences of Hillside, N.J., is the North American distributor of Pycnogenol; the supplier is Horphag Research in Geneva, Switzerland.

—Nutrition Research

Dry Eyes: Overlooked Fatigue Factor
Do you often feel like closing your eyes during the day, especially while working at your computer? You may have a condition called visual fatigue.

The glands in the eyelids secrete oils, water and mucin as we blink our eyes. Any constant viewing that slows down the blink rate, such as staring at a computer monitor, may cause visual fatigue.

Researchers at the University of Electro Communications in Tokyo, researchers studied 10 subjects who were given the tasks of adding numerals and reading copy on computers for six hours. Researchers assessed participants' visual fatigue with waveforms from electromyograms and electrooculograms, which monitored duration and amplitude of the orbicular ocular muscle and the eyes' vertical movement.

The symptoms of general fatigue and eye fatigue increased linearly during participants' work on the computers. The study results indicate that using the EMG and the EOG to monitor the spontaneous blinks were effective in assessing visual fatigue during prolonged computer work.

A study (Collegium Antropologicum, 2001) conducted at the Eye Clinic, Rebro School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Croatia, showed positive results using lodoxamide, a mast cell stabilizer, as a topical medication for dry eyes.

—Perceptive Motor Skills
2001 Feb;92(1):234-50.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 8/p. 38

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