intestine


Health benefits of peppermint

Candy and ice cream come to mind. But peppermint is also an age-old herbal medicine that has been used to treat a wide range of abdominal woes, from flatulence to stomach cancer to gallbladder disease.

But does it really work? Peppermint has fared a bit better than many herbal medicines in clinical trials. Several studies have shown that peppermint oil seems to be fairly effective at relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a collection of symptoms that includes abdominal cramping and pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. In 2007, Italian investigators reported that 75% of the patients in their study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in their IBS symptoms, compared with just 38% of those who took a placebo pill.

There are also findings — admittedly from studies of iffy quality — that topical application of peppermint oil helps relieve tension headaches and that a combination of peppermint and caraway oils can help with recurrent indigestion.

The oil that’s extracted from the peppermint plant contains lots of compounds. Menthol is the most abundant and pharmacologically important.

Menthol is an ingredient in many conventional over-the-counter products, including cough lozenges and muscle pain ointments like Bengay. Menthol creates that familiar cooling sensation by stimulating nerves that sense cold (your mouth has some of these nerves, which is the reason products containing menthol “taste” cool); it also inhibits those that react to painful stimuli. The effect doesn’t last long, but sometimes a brief reprieve or distraction from a cough or a muscle ache does wonders.

One explanation for how peppermint oil might help IBS sufferers is that the oil — and perhaps especially the menthol — blocks calcium channels, which has the effect of relaxing the “smooth” muscles in the walls of the intestine.

Peppermint oil also relaxes the sphincter that keeps the contents of the stomach from backing up into your esophagus. That’s why people troubled by heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux) are advised to avoid peppermint. It’s also the reason peppermint oil is often sold these days in enteric-coated capsules designed to bypass the stomach and dissolve in the small intestine.

People do occasionally have bad reactions to menthol and peppermint. In 2007, Swedish doctors reported the case of a 44-year-old man who got a runny nose every time he brushed his teeth. Allergy tests showed he was allergic to the menthol in his toothpaste. Several years ago, Israeli doctors reported the case of a woman whose mouth and throat were chemically burned by the large amount of peppermint oil she took to treat a cold.

~~ extracted from Havard Medical School newsletter ~~

Coffee Drinking Increases Cholesterol

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the July issue of the journal Molecular Endocrinology. 

In fact, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known, said Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student and first author of the report. Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the compound, which is removed by paper filters used in most other brewing processes. Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol, however.

Studies by a co-author – Dr. Martijn B. Katan of Vriye Univeriteit Amsterdam, Institute for Health Sciences, The Netherlands – indicate that consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.  

However, while the cholesterol increase associated with cafestol had been identified previously, mainly through the work of Katan and his colleagues, the mechanism by which it acted remained a mystery. It was a mystery that Moore and Ricketts decided to address in the laboratory.

For a long time, Ricketts said she was stymied because of paradoxical effects of cafestol in the liver.

However, the discovery of a gene called fibroblast growth factor 15 or FGF 15 opened the door to understanding how cafestol affects farsenoid receptor X or FXR in the intestine. FXR was first identified as a bile acid receptor in studies in several laboratories, including Moore’s.  

“It is part of the body’s own way of regulating levels of cholesterol,” said Ricketts.

Through research in the test tube and in mice, she and Moore found that in the intestine, cafestol activates FXR and induces FGF15, which reduces the effects of three liver genes that regulate cholesterol levels.

While it is still unclear whether cafestol itself reaches the liver, the finding does confirm that the effect of the compound is in the intestine, which is directly involved in the transport of bile acids. 

Moore’s interest in cafestol began several years ago when his wife read an article on coffee’s effect on cholesterol. She suggested that he might change his brewing method, which involved a permanent coffee filter. The paper filters, the article suggested, removed the coffee oils, which contain cafestol.

Moore researched the problem, and found papers by co-author Katan. He was already working on FXR, and began to think about whether cafestol might be affecting that signal in the cholesterol pathway.  

Others who took part in the work include: Mark V. Boekschoten, Guido J.E.J. Hooiveld and Michael Müller of Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition, The Netherlands; Arja J. Kreeft, Corina J.A. Moen, Rune R. Frants of Center for Human and Clinical Genetics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Soemini Kasanmoentalib of the Department of Medical Statistics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Sabine M. Post and Hans MG Princen of TNO Pharma in Leiden, The Netherlands; J. Gordon Porter of Incyte Corporation, Palo Alto, CA.; and Marten H. Hofker of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Funding for this study came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and the Netherlands Heart Foundation.

Note: This story was extracted from Science Daily and  adapted from a news release issued by Baylor College of Medicine.

10 things about the killer Constipation that I’ve learned 

Constipation in the past to me was just about the inability to pass motions smoothly, or in the crude language, inability to shit successfully in the toilet. 

My ignorance and indifference ceased when I have to understand this as part of the learning about our Good Image Tea, the unique tea which proves to resolve and prevent constipation, apart from its ability to detoxify the body particularly the gastro-intestinal system, promote metabolism, escalates toxin removal, enhances complexion and swiftly remove excess fats. 

Besides fats, constipation is what I keep hearing. Now, I have learned 10 things about not messing with constipation. 

(1) Constipation is not just about the problem of having hard stools or problems in passing stools, Constipation can also be defined as having fewer bowel movements than usual. It is a symptom and not a disease. 

(2) It is one symptom that no one particularly the older folks wants to admit or talk openly about. Doctors especially in the
U.S. probably knew best since it is the most common gastrointestinal complaint there clocking about 2 million patient visits annually.
 

(3) 1 in 2 women suffers from constipation, I read in one brochure on constipation.  Elsewhere, on the net, we can read that older people are more likely than younger people to become constipated. 

(4) 80% of
New York women constipated.
This is what a doctor author wrote in his book about the amusing
New York women protest in 1994 demanding the government heath department to address the constipation issue plaguing women. According to the 1991 National Health Interview Survey, about 4 1/2 million people in the
United States say they are constipated most or all of the time.
 

(5) Constipation is the weight that even the strongest man in the world will not be able to force out easily. For those who have constipated, you will know what I meant? 

(6) Constipation can be the worst nightmare and it is better off getting pregnant than constipated. This is what one blogger wrote about her ordeal of “Numbness, pain, sometimes balance loss or limping, insomnia” “after two days of not normal toilet visits”. “The soonest it ends everything goes back to ‘normal’”. 

 

(7) What shocked me is that constipation can be the cause that resulted in stroke or heart attack. 

I recalled about people who died in their sleep or died sitting in their sofa, car, etc. Postmortem showed that they died of stroke or heart attack. But to think it can also be due to constipation is surprising. 

During my recent trip to
China with my factory boss, we met our partners and friends about packaging our Good Image Tea.
 

They told me that it will be extremely dangerous for those who had constipation and yet do not know that they have high blood pressure or brain tumor. If they decide to force the stools out, the prolonged strain will naturally cause the blood pressure to shoot up which might trigger a stroke or heart attack. 

Even if the person does not have a heart attack, straining oneself while holding one’s breath to force out the stools can cause the haemorrhoidal blood pressure to increase. The rough dry faeces might cause abrasions and rupture the surrounding tissues of the anus and thus cause bleeding, painful defecation and stress. 

(8) The hard stools that causes constipation is at the front and is just 3 to 5 cm long while the rest following that are soft or watery. 

(9) The large intestine (colon) which is about 1.5 meters long receives the waste from the small intestine at about 10 cm per hour. It compresses the waste and absorbs the water before the solid waste or stools reach the anus. If the stools are stuck at the anus for too long, it will lead to the hardening of the stools starting from the front. Just imagine that if we eat and eat and do not pass out the stools in 15 hours, the whole large intestine will be jammed. 

(10) No wonder the Chinese has a saying that “一日不排便,毒胜三包烟” which means that if one does not discharge stools from the body every day, its toxin in the body is worst than smoking three packages of cigarettes.