China is encouraging herbal remedies to treat COVID-19. But scientists warn against it.

Traditional Chinese medicine pharmacists prepare herbs to produce doses of concoctions they say helps combat the coronavirus pandemic at the Xiaogan Chinese Medical Hospital in Xiaogan City, in central China’s Hubei province, in February.

China’s National Health Commission reported last month that of the more than 80,000 people infected with COVID-19 since the outbreak began in December, 90 percent took some form of traditional Chinese medicine to treat their symptoms.

“TCM mixtures can be toxic, contaminated or adulterated with prescription drugs; they can also interact with prescription drugs,” Ernst said. It can also give patients a false sense of security, leading them to neglect proven medications or therapies.

“It is a legal health system in China which is parallel with Western medicine, and of course, there is also integration between traditional medicine and Western medicine,” Dr. Jianping Liu, professor of clinical epidemiology at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, told NBC News.

The lack of detail about the remedies contributes to doubts over their efficacy, Dan Larhammar, a molecular cell biologist and president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said in a phone interview.

Recent reports in the Japanese journal BioScience Trends and the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine support the various COVID-19 traditional treatments, but Larhammar said these studies and others like them lack scientific rigor — not having adequate sample sizes, using vague terms and nonpharmacological concepts or testing too many combinations of herbs to parse out their specific effects.

Read the full article at NBC NEWS

9 Most Effective Natural Remedies to Treat Seasonal Allergies, According to Experts

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’ve probably got a love/hate relationship with spring. It’s tough to go outside and smell the roses when you’re snuffy and sneezy. The birds might be singing, but your sinuses are screaming for relief.

Oftentimes, people reach for over-the-counter antihistamines to lessen the severity of their allergic symptoms and they can be effective. These drugs block the chemical histamine which the immune system produces when a person is exposed to an allergen. The production of histamine can cause runny nose, watery eyes, itching, swelling, and other symptoms. While it would make sense to lean on antihistamines to relieve the sniffles, medicines like these can also have negative side effects such as drowsiness, fatigue, headache, and nausea.

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Can Natural Remedies Really Help You Fight the Coronavirus?

As COVID-19 blasts its way across the globe, viral wellness videos, tweets, and social media posts are springing up in its wake. Whatever the platform, these blitzes share the same underlying message: Certain supplements and natural remedies can prepare your immune system to do battle against the infection caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Anybody who’s making specific medical claims needs to supply a quality body of evidence,” says David Stukus, an immunologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “It’s really important to investigate before taking claims at face value.” So far, says John Mellors, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh, no randomized clinical trials have shown vitamins or natural remedies to be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19.

Vitamin Overload
A lack of scientific evidence, however, hasn’t prevented self-styled experts from rushing in. Online, high-dose vitamin C tops the list of most-touted coronavirus supplements — a frenzy that YouTube influencers have been feeding.

One reason pitches like Saul’s can seem so appealing is that they contain granules of truth. A China-based clinical trial, for instance, is now evaluating whether high doses of vitamin C — up to 24 grams a day — can help resolve COVID-19-related pneumonia.

Another confounding factor is that there’s ample evidence that nutrients from our diet — including vitamins B6, C, D, and zinc — do ensure the immune system rests on a strong foundation. The vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits helps your skin cells keep bacteria and viruses out, and some immune cells deploy the vitamin as ammunition to kill harmful microbes. Your body uses vitamin B6 from meats and fish to make antibodies, defender proteins that keep pathogens contained until your immune system can finish them off. Garlic, meanwhile, contains a compound called allicin, which stimulates some immune cells to attack microbial invaders.

Uncharted Waters
Some people who try unproven treatments could end up putting others’ health at risk as well as their own. Seductive pitches can lull viewers into the false belief that supplement regimens shield them against the virus, Stukus says, which may dissuade them from following social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines.

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Garden Remedies, a peek behind the curtain

Tucked miles away from Newton in Fitchburg sits Garden Remedies Inc., a massive building that looks like any run of the mill office to the untrained eye. Yet inside sit rows upon rows of cannabis plants and a state-of-the-art lab that are key to daily operations.

Garden Remedies is currently the only operating dispensary in Newton, but probably not many know much about the operations of a marijuana dispensary. Where exactly is all of the product coming from? Is it safe? What is Garden Remedies doing for the community in Newton?

Sourced directly from its growing facility in Fitchburg is the dried cannabis, oil for vape pens, and edibles. Garden Remedies practices vertical integration, meaning that the company can oversee the growing, producing, shipping, and selling. Vertical integration gives Garden Remedies complete control over its business.

Read more at the Boston Globe…

Turkmenistan fights coronavirus with (more) isolation and herbal remedies

A pandemic, by definition, reaches everybody. There are now reports that the coronavirus has reached Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most isolated and closed states. In recent years, the gas-rich desert state has suffered a protracted economic downturn, leaving observers to wonder how Turkmenistan’s public services will cope with a full-blown humanitarian emergency.

True to form, Turkmen officialdom is keeping quiet about bad news on the horizon. They have barely mentioned the word “coronavirus,” which has not appeared on any government website after one cursory mention on March 5. That same day, citing medical sources in the capital Ashgabat, RFE/RL’s Turkmenistan service wrote that there are probably at least two confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

According to Chronicles of Turkmenistan, an independent website following political and social developments in the country, Turkmenistan’s few touristic resorts such as the Ahvaz on the Caspian Sea coast, have been closed down in recent days, and since at least February the Ministry of Health has distributed leaflets throughout the capital including information on coronavirus symptoms. Nevertheless, according to Fergana News, an independent news website specializing in Central Asia, the authorities started handing out a new version of these booklets in March which omitted any mention of the name of the new virus.

According to Chronicles of Turkmenistan, an independent website following political and social developments in the country, Turkmenistan’s few touristic resorts such as the Ahvaz on the Caspian Sea coast, have been closed down in recent days, and since at least February the Ministry of Health has distributed leaflets throughout the capital including information on coronavirus symptoms. Nevertheless, according to Fergana News, an independent news website specializing in Central Asia, the authorities started handing out a new version of these booklets in March which omitted any mention of the name of the new virus.

Read the full article at Global Voices

5 Neglected Natural Remedies For Lower Back Pain

Persistent pain in the lower back is mostly due to our sedentary lifestyle. We often spend a large part of our days sitting. We sit for the entire day in the office working on our laptops, then while commuting, eating dinner, watching our favorite show late at night, everything in a seated position, which puts a lot of pressure on our lower back and in the end, we experience an irresistible pain.

But these tricks only provide you temporary relief and the pain returns the next day. Here are some small tweaks that you can make in your daily routine to get rid of nasty lower back pain.

• Exercise regularly

As we spend our entire day in a seated position, it is crucial to exercise to relax our back muscles. Exercising regularly strengthens our back, stomach and leg muscles. Strong muscles support our spine and relieve back pain.

• Heat and cold therapy

Heat and ice therapy works well in relieving back pain. Ice therapy reduces inflammation and heat therapy relaxes your muscles and improves blood circulation.

• Get proper sleep

Bad sleeping posture can even lead to chronic back pain in the morning. So, make sure you sleep for 7-8 hours at night in a good posture. Apart from this, your mattress and pillow can also give you lower back pain. So change them if they are 7 years old.

Continue reading at Times of India

Home Remedies To Help Reduce Bad Breath

Bad breath can be very embarrassing in social situations. Bad breath is otherwise known as halitosis. What is challenging about bad breath is that you can scarcely be a good judge of how your smells.

There’s a way people cup their hands around their mouths to smell their own breath. This trick is not always accurate, and it may leave you thinking your breath is okay when it’s probably not. Or that your breath is not okay when it actually is.

What Are The Possible Causes Of Bad Breath?

This is not hard to tell. There’s no mystery there. Ninety percent of bad breath originates from the mouth. A kind of bad odor from the mouth that may occur as a result of poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and dental cavities. Also, bacteria that live in your mouth can cause your mouth to produce smells.

Home remedies for bad breath

Improve your oral hygiene

This is the commonest cause of bad breath. Some people don’t brush their teeth often enough. You’re supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. While some don’t brush their teeth very well. It is easy to get bored during brushing and rush through it, skipping some parts of your mouth without washing. Also, bacteria can easily accumulate on the surface of your mouth. There’s a process called tongue scraping. It is the act of scraping the film of bacteria that have collected on your tongue.

Water

It may come as a surprise to you that the drier your mouth is the more likely you are to have bad breath. Saliva helps keep bacteria away from your mouth. The reason why most people have bad breath in the morning is that at night your mouth is usually without saliva.

Continue reading at Pulse

Eyebrow Dandruff: Best Natural Remedies To Try

An unlikely place to find flaky skin is the eyebrow because we are used to tackling the scalp directly to get rid of dandruff. However, when the condition is chronic, it can spread to other parts of the body that have glands to secrete oil, especially the forehead and face area, inevitably affecting the eyebrows too.

A chronic condition of dandruff is called seborrheic dermatitis, which can occur among both adults and children. It leads to skin rashes, greasy skin, and whitish scales. In other words, it’s an itchy rash located on an individual’s scalp that also contains flaky scales. The causes are similar to eczema and psoriasis such as cold or dry environments, products disagreeable with the skin and allergies. The specific triggers with regards to dandruff are oil and yeast buildup and imbalance of the skin microbiome through certain products that irritate the skin.

The condition is recurring in people who suffer from it once. In order to get rid of the inflammation and reduce it temporarily, one option is an anti-inflammatory moisturizer such as sea buckthorn oil in moderation since it leads to oil accumulation. This does not address the cause but only deals with the symptoms. A topical antifungal cream is also used by some people. Medicated shampoo with ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, and coal tar are other products used to curb mild cases. These solutions are aimed at loosening the scales of the scalp or eyebrows and stopping the itching.

The fungus present inside the oil-secreting glands is called Malassezia, which is commonly found in dandruff. It is treated with anti-dandruff shampoo, moisturizers, and creams. However, if symptoms persist, consult a dermatologist.

A natural remedy to try beforehand is the tea tree oil, which is filled with antifungal properties to protect the scalp against the Malassezia fungus. A study indicated that people who used tea tree oil shampoo reduced dandruff. A tea tree oil with 5 percent strength can be combined with lotion or aloe gel and be applied on the area topically, including the eyebrows, almost every other day of the week. While the symptoms disappear slowly, you can reduce its usage to a few times per week.

Addressing the dandruff is not enough, the root cause, which is the yeast has to be dealt with first. Scrubbing and oiling only temporarily help the skin, but it could actually become worse over time. Antifungal and antimicrobial shampoos could be applied on the eyebrow, but make sure it does not enter the eyes.

Read more on Medical Daily

High Blood Pressure: Herbal Remedies May Inspire Future Treatments

People have used herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Today, with medical researchers continually hunting for better alternative treatments, some are revisiting these remedies. A recent study looks at herbs that people believe can treat hypertension.

Antihypertensive medications work well for some people but not for others, and the side effects can be unpleasant.

For these reasons, researchers are keen to find innovative ways to tackle the growing issue of hypertension.

The fact that people have used these treatments for millennia is certainly not evidenced that they are effective, but they are surely worth a second look.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine recently zeroed in on a group of plants that have, historically, been a treatment for hypertension. They published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Diverse Plants

Under the leadership of Prof. Geoff Abbott, Ph.D., they identified a bioactive trait that all of the extracts shared. This trait, the scientists believe, might help explain why some herbs appear to have mild antihypertensive properties.

Not all herbs are equal

When they compared plant species, the researchers found differing levels of KCNQ5 activity. “Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called lavender, was among those we studied,” Prof. Abbot explains. “We discovered it to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed extract and chamomile.”

Interestingly, current medications do not target the KCNQ5 channel. Spotting this gap in the drug market, Prof. Abbott hopes that the “discovery of these botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable the development of future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension.”

For now, though, people should not switch their current hypertension treatments for herbal remedies.

Medical News Today

High Blood Pressure: Herbal Remedies May Inspire Future Treatments

People have used herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Today, with medical researchers continually hunting for better alternative treatments, some are revisiting these remedies. A recent study looks at herbs that people believe can treat hypertension.

For these reasons, researchers are keen to find innovative ways to tackle the growing issue of hypertension.

Some scientists are turning back the clock and looking to ancient herbal remedies. Humans have been self-medicating with the herbs that they find since before history began.

The fact that people have used these treatments for millennia is certainly not evidenced that they are effective, but they are surely worth a second look.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine recently zeroed in on a group of plants that have, historically, been a treatment for hypertension. They published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Diverse Plants

The scientists took herbal extracts from a diverse range of unrelated plants, including lavender, fennel seed extract, basil, thyme, marjoram, ginger, and chamomile.

Not All Herbs Are Equal

When they compared plant species, the researchers found differing levels of KCNQ5 activity. “Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called lavender, was among those we studied,” Prof. Abbot explains. “We discovered it to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed extract and chamomile.”

Next, the scientists drilled down to determine which plant compound is responsible for activating the potassium channel.

Interestingly, current medications do not target the KCNQ5 channel. Spotting this gap in the drug market, Prof. Abbott hopes that the “discovery of these botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable the development of future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension.”

Medical News Today