Homeopathic Proof Is in the Water
A recent study published in New Scientist (June 2003) offers scientific evidence that supports the principles of homeopathic medicine. Scientists used thermoluminescence to look at patterns of light, or energy, in ice cubes. When they successively diluted chemically treated water way beyond the point when any ions of the original substance could remain, they found it had a different structure than the plain frozen water. This supports the notion that water retains a memory of substances once dissolved in it—a central tenet of homeopathic theory. Critics, though, say the results could be due to impurities in the treated water and that more trials are necessary.
Supplements for G.I. Joe and Jane
In addition to guns, the armed forces may start carrying supplement gummy bears and transdermal patches. The U.S. Defense Department is spending $1.2 million to find nutraceuticals that can help soldiers stay awake and alert. Researchers are looking at caffeine from coffee plants for energy and echinacea and turmeric for their anti-inflammatory ability to ease soldiers' aching joints. Alternative delivery systems that bypass the digestive system for soldiers unable to eat and for quick absorption are also being studied. If successful, the supplements could also be available to civilians such as firefighters and athletes. Study results are expected in late 2005.
What a Headache
Certain herbal supplements may render common prescription migraine medications ineffective and may even worsen headaches, according to research presented at the American Headache Association annual meeting in Chicago in July. Scientists found that some herbs, including ginkgo, St. John's wort and echinacea, can interact with the triptan class of drugs and tricyclic antidepressants used for migraines. In addition, researchers say herbs can interfere with the liver's ability to process these drugs, possibly making them toxic.
But Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, is quick to point out that the research was not original but rather a review of primarily in vitro studies that was presented at a conference, not in a peer-reviewed journal. "It's a lot of speculation that would not have gotten so much attention if it hadn't gone out in a press release," he says. Blumenthal reminds retailers that consumers should know limitations and possible side effects of any herb they are taking.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 9/p. 78