As some of you may know, I am slowly — glacially, even — working on a book about gardening with medicinal plants. Looking out at the frost-covered garden this morning for inspiration for any hint of green, I decided to start working on my olive (Olea europa) monograph.
Arbequina olive (Olea europea) in flower.
Before my breakfast (which includes copious quantities of olive oil — yum!), I went looking through my physical library for something beyond olive oil. Because, really, I’m unlikely to actually press the olives from my tree. And besides, like so many other garden medicines, there’s healing value in other parts.
In olive’s case, the leaves are powerhouses of phytochemicals (more…)
English researchers have turned up a new tool for fighting heart disease: the humble toothbrush. Medical professionals have long known that inflammation in the body is a major contributor to heart disease, and that included inflammation in the mouth and gums. The new study looked at information on 11,000 people who participated in the Scottish Health Survey. After balancing other contributors to heart disease, such as obesity and smoking, the researchers looked at markers of inflammation and how often the study participants brushed their teeth. The findings were unambiguous: people who brushed less than twice a day had a 70 percent greater risk of heart disease, along with higher blood levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. (Via ScienceDaily.)
Researchers have found a new ally in the effort to maintain memories with advancing age: Two new studies find low levels of Vitamin D are linked with impaired mental function. Oregon researchers tested 150 people, averaging 85 years old, living on their own. Participants were given a standard test for cognitive impairment; those with the lowest Vitamin D levels scored the worst, and those with the highest scored the best. French researchers looked at 752 women over 75 years old, and found those with the lowest Vitamin D levels were twice as likely to have cognitive impairment. It’s not clear exactly how Vitamin D works to maintain brain power, but researchers think it’s related to the vitamin’s anti-inflammatory action. That means blood vessels in the brain are in better shape to deliver food and oxygen to power the brain. (Via WebMD.)
Photo by Oktaviani Marvikasari.
You’ve always heard that fish is brain food. Now, a growing body of research is supporting that contention.
One study published in the February edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry found that fish-oil supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids warded off psychosis in high-risk teens. Study participants received either fish oil or a placebo for 12 weeks. One year later, more of the fish-oil teens were still psychosis free. Researchers say the results are as good as those seen with antipsychotic medications, with benefits lasting longer than any other intervention. And, unlike typical pharmaceutical prescriptions that cause problems including weight gain and libido loss, fish oils seem to have no major negative side effects.
Other studies are finding that omega-3 oils can help the mind stay young and sharp. Earlier reports found that DHA, one specific form of omega-3, helped slow dementia but didn’t help folks with Alzheimer’s disease. A February report in the Journal of Neurochemistry suggests that EPA, another omega-3, may do the trick. The report’s authors believe EPA helps slow the natural decline of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, helping keep the brain young and boost memory and learning. Both DHA and EPA are typically found in fish-oil supplements in varying ratios.
A version of this post originally appeared on Wellwire.com.