Black women may need more folic acid
Black women may need to increase their folic acid intake, according to a study published in the June issue of Hypertension. Researchers studying pre-eclampsia—acutely elevated blood pressure in pregnant women—found that black women with the condition had lower folic acid levels than white women. Pre-eclampsia, which affects about 5 percent of pregnant women, is a common cause of premature births and can result in seizures and death. The findings could Also have implications for cardiovascular disease. The black women with pre-eclampsia Also had higher levels of the amino acid homocysteine compared to the white women. Elevated homocysteine levels may increase the chances of heart disease. Further studies are warranted to see if black women should indeed supplement with folic acid, the scientists say.
Weeding for supps
The next botanical superstars may not come from deep in the rain forest—they?ll more likely be one of the humble weeds that gardeners toss in their compost pile. In fact, weeds make up more than a third (36—of the 101) plant species used in pharmaceuticals, says John Stepp in his research published in the June Journal of Ethno-Pharmacology. Some popular weed-based pharmaceuticals include morphine from the poppy and vinblastine from the periwinkle family, which is used to combat Hodgkin?s disease. Stepp compared plants picked from fields in Georgia versus plants gathered from a forest; 50 of the field plants had been used medicinally by Native Americans compared with only 12 of the forest plants. Natural products researchers should look to their backyard, not just the rain forest, for medicinal plants, Stepp says.
Supersized study finds CAM use popular
More than 35 percent of U.S. adults use some form of complementary alternative medicine, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data are based on 31,000 people interviewed in person, the largest government survey of its kind. Among the most frequent ailments people cited for using CAM were back pain, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety and depression. The survey found that CAM use was greater among women, people with higher education, those who had been hospitalized within the past year and former smokers. Also discovered was that when megavitamin use and prayer were included in the CAM definition, black adults were more likely to use CAM. Only 12 percent of those surveyed consulted care from a licensed CAM practitioner, suggesting that most people self-treat with CAM. Nineteen percent of participants used natural products such as herbs, other botanicals and enzymes.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 28