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Traditional remedies do work

[Posted: Wed 29/09/2004]

By Deborah Condon

Scientific research carried out on a number of traditional remedies has confirmed their benefits in the treatment of a range of illnesses, including diabetes and cancer, a major conference has been told.

According to a team of researchers from King's College in London, the findings offer a 'scientific justification' for the use of such treatments.

They looked at a range of traditional treatments including an Indian diabetes treatment, wound healing agents from Ghana and cancer treatments used in the Far East.

In the case of diabetes, the researchers analysed the curry-leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) from India. Having investigated several of these plants, they said that the data clearly shows them to have 'potential anti-diabetic activity'.

They developed a test for anti-diabetic activity based on the inhibition of a specific digestive enzyme, which is involved in the breakdown of dietary starch to glucose. A person with diabetes does not produce enough insulin to cope with rapid rises in blood glucose levels. Therefore slowing the rate of starch breakdown, by blocking this enzyme, can lead to a 'more even trickle' of glucose into the bloodstream from the intestine.

According to Professor Peter Houghton, head of the research team, this is like 'restricting people coming out of a station gate in the rush hour so that they come out one at a time rather than seven at a time'.

The research team found that extracts from the curry-leaf tree showed significant enzyme inhibition and are now looking to identify the specific active compounds.

The team also worked with researchers from Ghana, to investigate the properties of some plants used by one of the largest ethnic tribes there. They interviewed traditional healers to identify plants that are used to help wound healing. They then tested the plants to see whether there is scientific justification for this use.

Reporting their investigation of Commelina diffusa, also known as climbing dayflower, they said that an extract of the plant was shown to have both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity.

"This activity indicates that the plant is useful in helping wounds to heal and stopping them getting infected", Professor Houghton said.

Finally the researchers also found that plants used in Thai and Chinese traditional medicine for the treatment of cancer do appear to have anti-cancer activity. Plants from both countries were assessed and for both sets, some promising activity was seen against lung cancer cells. Work is now underway to isolate and purify the active compounds present in these plants.

According to the researchers, the findings will help local people to identify which plants to recommend and may lead to potential new compounds for pharmaceutical use. Their research was presented to the British Pharmaceutical Conference, which is taking place in Manchester this week.

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  mary(marykennykelly)  Posted: 29/09/2004 19:17
its nice to hear good news ,new discoveries are very promising indeed!you cannot beat plenty of research especially where health is concerned.
  RCAM(VJK16578)  Posted: 01/10/2004 14:44
Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) would humbly like to warmly thank Professor Peter Houghton (et al) for boldly stating the obvious. We sincerely hope that Health Minister Mary Harney is carefully listening . . .
  Jaye(EBO18384)  Posted: 04/11/2004 10:45
In my opinion, homeopathy is very effective. Contact the Irish Society of Homeopaths for more information.
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