Sunday, March 25, 2007

Omega Benefits

Study points to omega benefits for children


A SIMPLE dietary supplement may help improve concentration, memory and problem-solving in children.

Scans on four British children who took an omega oil supplement for three months showed their brains developed dramatically - by the equivalent of three years - over that period.

The four children in the pilot study on the effects of diet on young brains were aged between eight and 13 and were classified as overweight. They took two capsules a day of a supplement called VegEPA, which contains a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in fish, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil. They were also encouraged to cut down on fatty snacks and to exercise more.

After three months the children's reading age had advanced by more than a year, their handwriting was neater and they paid more attention in class. The scans showed an increase in nerve fibres in their brain, said the lead researcher, Basant Puri, from London's Imperial College. "It means you have more connections and greater density of nerve cells, in the same way a tree grows more branches," said Professor Puri, whose study is yet to undergo peer review.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tiny magnet that soothes the misery of menopause
A tiny magnet not much bigger than a 50p piece could ease away the symptoms of the menopause.

Tests on hundreds of women have shown that the LadyCare magnet can relieve symptoms from anxiety and mood swings to hot flushes and memory problems.

Many of the volunteers also lost weight, with some shedding more than a stone after wearing the magnet under their clothes for three months.

Nyjon Eccles, the Harley Street physician who led the study, believes the £19 gadget will prove popular with women who are reluctant to take HRT because of its links to breast cancer, heart disease and strokes, for example.

"We know that HRT is associated with risks of various kinds, so if there is a way of reducing symptoms that is cheap and effective, why not?" he said.

He added that while it was unclear how the magnet works, it is possible it raises levels of the female sex hormones that fall during the change of life.

Some 508 women who were going through the menopause were asked to attach a LadyCare magnet to their underwear, day and night, for three months.

Every woman experienced some benefit, with symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, sleeping problems, incontinence and breast tenderness being reduced by up to 70 per cent.

Hot flushes, night sweats and irritability improved by a third, as did loss of libido and lapses in concentration. In addition, one in five of the women lost weight.

Previous studies have shown that magnetic therapy can ease period pain and speed up wound healing.

Last year, a fleecy "wrap" made by Magnopulse, the company behind LadyCare, became available on the NHS as a treatment for leg ulcers, after trials showed it cleared up the ulcers quicker than the compression bandages usually prescribed.

It is thought the magnets affect the body in several ways, speeding up wound healing by improving circulation and easing pain by interfering with the nerve signals that pass information about discomfort to the brain.

In LadyCare’s case, the magnetic field may boost levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Falling levels of the hormones, which are produced by the ovaries, are responsible for many menopause symptoms.

Amber Valentine had tried everything from evening primrose oil to HRT to ease her passage through the menopause.

But interrupted sleep, night sweats, weight gain and depression continued to make her life a misery.

So, when she spotted an advert for recruits for the LadyCare trial, she felt she had nothing to lose. A month later, many of her symptoms had eased considerably.

The 48-year-old, from North London, said: "The first thing I noticed was that I could sleep — that was the main thing. And the sweats lessened — I was still getting them, but they were not nearly as bad."

Now, a year after first starting to wear the powerful magnet, Amber has lost much of the weight she put on when the menopause started.

She said: "I definitely advise other women to give it a go. It will reduce the symptoms, even if it doesn't alleviate them completely, and that must make life much easier.

"If women knew about this, they wouldn't have to suffer in silence."

Dr Eccles, who plans another trial, says: "There is no doubt the menopause can be a challenging time for women.

"The LadyCare device may prove to be one of the greatest natural solutions for alleviating symptoms."

However, many doctors remain sceptical about the benefits. Research published in the British Medical Journal concluded that any healing effect is likely to be minimal, and can be explained by patients believing in the power of the treatment rather than it really working