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Past News Items - May 2008


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In The News

Chinese Club Moss Extract May Improve Cognition In Alzheimer’s Disease

Blood Pressure—Lowering Diet May Be Associated With Lower Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke

Twelve Dietary Herbal Supplements Recalled Because of Possible Health Risk

FDA Warns Consumers About “Total Body Formula” and “Total Body Mega Formula”




Released: 05/01/08


Chinese Club Moss Extract May Improve Cognition In Alzheimer’s Disease

Evidence suggests that patients with Alzheimer’s disease who have taken Chinese Club Moss Extract (Huperzine A) have improved general cognitive function, global clinical status, functional performance, and reduced behavioral disturbance compared to patients taking placebos.

A research team led by Associate Professor Hongmei Wu, who works in the Department of Geriatrics at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan, came to this conclusion after studying data in 6 trials that involved a total of 454 patients.

Part of the damage involved in Alzheimer’s disease is a loss of acetylcholine-containing neurons in the basal forebrain. This suggests that drugs that could inhibit cholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine, could increase the ability of remaining cholinergic neurons.

Scientists know that Huperzine A can block acetyl cholinesterase and that it can work both in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This makes it a promising agent for treating various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.



Blood Pressure—Lowering Diet May Be Associated With Lower Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke

Women who eat diets similar to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet—which is low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy products, and high in plant proteins, fruits, and vegetables—appear to have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to a report in the April 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The DASH diet has been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in individuals with high or normal blood pressure. The diet has also been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol and is recommended in national dietary guidelines as an example of a healthy eating pattern.

Teresa T. Fung, Sc D , of Simmons College, Boston, and colleagues studied 88, 517 female nurses aged 34 to 59 years in the Nurses’ Health Study who did not have cardiovascular disease or diabetes in 1980. Seven times from 1980 through 2004, the women reported the types of foods they ate regularly over the previous year. Researchers then calculated a DASH score for each woman based on 8 food and nutrient components. Their scores increased when they ate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and stayed close to the recommended amounts of low-fat dairy. Scores decreased with increased consumption of red and processed meats, sweetened beverages, and sodium.

Through 24 years of follow up, 2 129 women had non-fatal heart attacks, 976 died of coronary heart disease, and 2 317 had strokes. Higher DASH scores were associated with a lower risk for heart disease and stroke. When separated into groups based on their DASH scores, the one fifth of women who had diets that were most similar to the DASH diet were 24% less likely to develop fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease and 18% less likely to have a stroke than the one fifth of women with the lowest DASH scores.

In a subgroup of women who provided blood samples, higher DASH scores were also associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6. These compounds are markers of inflammation, which has been associated with heart disease risk.



Twelve Dietary Herbal Supplements Recalled Because of Possible Health Risk

Herbal Science International, Inc, is recalling 12 dietary supplements that contain ephedra, aristolochic acid, or human placenta because they may present a serious health hazard to consumers.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long regarded dietary supplements containing ephedra as potential health hazards because this botanical contains ephedrine alkaloids. Ephedrine alkaloids are adrenaline-like stimulants that can have potentially dangerous effects on the heart. Recent studies have confirmed that ephedrine alkaloids raise blood pressure and otherwise stress the circulatory system, effects that are linked to adverse health effects like heart attacks and strokes. Based on this and other evidence in the scientific literature, the FDA issued a rule in February 2004 prohibiting the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids because they present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury. Herbal Science International is recalling 9 products that contain ephedra, a source of ephedrine alkaloids, as an ingredient sold labeled under the following brands:

Wu Yao Shun Qi San
Qing Bi Tang (Nasal Cleanser)
Zhong Fong Huo Luo Wan (Stroke Revito Formula)
Xiao Qing Long Tang (Little Green Dragon)
Ding Chuan Tang
Xiao Xu Ming Tang
Feng Shi Zhi Tong Wan (Joint Relief)
Guo Min Bi Yan Wan
Fang Feng Tong Sheng San

The compnay is also recalling Tou Tong San (Headache Formula) and Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (Du Huo Joint Relief), 2 products containing aristolochic acid. Aristolochic acid is a potent carcinogen and nephrotoxin found in certain plants and botanicals. This chemical can cause serious kidney damage, and the use of products that contain aristolochic acid has been associated with several occurrences of kidney failure. These products have also been linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer in people who have consumed them.

Finally, the company is recalling Seng Jong Tzu Tong Tan, a product that contains human placenta. Human placenta may transmit disease, and dietary supplements that contain it may not be lawfully marketed in the United States.

All of the 12 products under voluntary recall are packed in white plastic bottles of 100 capsules. All lots are covered in this recall action. These products have been sold nationwide in herbal stores, by acupuncturists, and on the Internet.

Consumers who have purchased these products should immediately discontinue their use and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (626) 333-9998. Consumers who have been taking the products and have experienced adverse reactions should consult their healthcare professionals. Consumers and healthcare professionals can also report adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm.



FDA Warns Consumers About “Total Body Formula” and “Total Body Mega Formula”

The US Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers not to purchase or consume Total Body Formula in the Tropical Orange and Peach Nectar flavors or Total Body Mega Formula in the Orange/Tangerine flavor. The liquid dietary supplement products may cause severe adverse reactions, including significant hair loss, muscle cramps, diarrhea, joint pain, and fatigue.

The Total Body Formula products are sold in 8-oz and 32-oz plastic bottles. The Total Body Mega Formula is sold in a 32-oz plastic bottle. Both products are distributed by Total Body Essential Nutrition, Atlanta, Georgia. The company is the sole distributor of the products and has voluntarily recalled Total Body Formula in the flavors noted above.

The Florida Department of Health recently provided reports to the FDA on 23 individuals who experienced serious reactions to these products 7 to 10 days after ingestion. In all cases, the reactions included significant hair loss, muscle cramps, diarrhea, joint pain, and fatigue. The FDA is investigating a report that some individuals in Tennessee using the same products have experienced similar reactions.

FDA laboratories are analyzing samples of the products to identify the cause of the reactions, including the possibility that the products contain excessive amounts of selenium, known to cause similar symptoms . Selenium, a trace mineral, is needed only in small amounts for good health.

The products have been distributed in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The FDA is advising consumers in all states to avoid using the products immediately and to discard the products by placing them in a trash receptacle outside of the home.

Consumers who have been taking the products and have experienced adverse reactions should consult their healthcare professionals. Consumers and healthcare professionals can report adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm. For more information, consumers can call the FDA’s toll-free Food Safety Hotline at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.



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