Ahead of the Curve: Early-Stage Discoveries Show Promise

Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings.

Mushroom boosts immunity

In the lab, doctors tested individual mushroom extracts, alone and in combination, to measure the immune response. All extracts, alone or together, stimulated immune cells to excrete proteins, called cytokines, present in human white blood cells, but the combination of maitake, reishi, and shiitake mushroom extracts appeared to have a greater, synergistic stimulating effect that exceeded the sum of the individual mushrooms’ effects.

Discussing the findings, doctors said they believe it is mushrooms’ beta-glucan and alpha-glucan content that is responsible for stimulating the immune response.

Reference 3: Journal of Nutrition; November, 2019, 31711172, Published Online

Turmeric anti-cancer activity

In the early 2000s, doctors first reported anti-cancer properties of a molecule found in turmeric, pentagamavumon-1, or PGV-1. Now, this new study confirms these findings. In the lab, in human and mouse cells, doctors demonstrated that PGV-1 inhibited the reactive-oxygen species (ROS) enzymes cancer cells need to grow, triggering cancer-cell death.

PGV-1 was effective on numerous cancer types, putting the cancers into remission, and with greater anti-ROS enzyme activity in cancer cells than in normal cells. Also, the anti-cancer effects persisted even after discontinuing PGV-1.

Reference 3: Journal of Nutrition; November, 2019, 31711172, Published Online

Curcumin cut inflammation linked to memory loss

Curcumin is a well-known anti-inflammatory. Specialized immune nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, called microglia, clean up the amyloid plaques that accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). But inflammatory proteins can damage microglia. In the lab, microglia cells treated with curcumin released far lower levels of this inflammatory protein, HMGB1, compared to untreated cells.

Doctors said the results suggest that curcumin can effectively inhibit nerve cell inflammation, and that this study reveals curcumin’s anti-inflammatory method of action.

Reference: Annals of Translational Medicine; February, 2020, Vol. 8, No. 4

Prebiotics improve sleep, stress resilience

Prebiotics can influence bodily functions including sleep and recovering from stress. In the lab, doctors added prebiotics to the diets of rats and found, compared to those that didn’t get prebiotics, they spent more time in restorative, non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, and after stress, spent more time in REM sleep, which is crucial for recovering from stress. Also, the prebiotics group retained daily, healthy, natural body temperature fluctuations, and greater diversity of healthy gut bacteria. Doctors concluded prebiotics can buffer against stress.

Reference 2: Nature – Scientific Reports; 2020, Vol. 10, Article No. 3848

Vitamin D slows aggressive cancer

Low levels of vitamin D lead to worse outcomes in melanoma, a type of cancer in cells containing pigment, but doctors didn’t know why. In the lab, doctors discovered human melanoma tumors had low levels of vitamin D receptors on their cell surfaces, reducing the activity of nerve-signaling pathways the immune system uses to fight the cancer. Also, genes linked to cancer growth and spread had higher activity levels. “Although vitamin D alone won’t treat cancer, it can assist the immune system in finding and attacking cancer cells,” doctors said.

Reference: Cancer Research Journals; November, 2019, 5472, Published Online

Citrus flavonoids slow kidney disease

Hesperidin is an antioxidant flavonoid compound found in citrus fruits. In the lab, doctors fed glycosyl-hesperidin, a derivative of hesperidin, to mice with inflamed and fibrous kidneys. After three days of treatment with hesperidin, kidney inflammation was significantly reduced, slowing the progression of kidney disease. Discussing the findings, doctors said, “Our model successfully enabled the suppressive effects of a citrus flavonoid derivative on inflammation and fibrosis in kidney disease.” The doctors suggest hesperidin as a possible complementary approach to treating kidney disease.

Reference: Nature; October, 2019, S41598, Published Online

Resveratrol anti-E-coli effects

E-coli bacteria are the most common cause of urinary tract infection. The bacteria group together and attach to cells that line the walls of the bladder, making it harder for the immune system to attack. Also, E-coli have developed resistance to antibiotics. In the lab, doctors introduced trans-resveratrol, oxyresveratrol, and resveratrol oligomers into a cell culture infected with E-coli which reduced the ability of E-coli to group together and adhere to the bladder cell walls. These results suggest resveratrol may reduce E-coli infection.

Reference: T and F Online Journal; September, 2019, 1657418

BetsyHealth Note:  This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition (including being pregnant or nursing) or take prescription or over-the-counter medication. For example, resveratrol may have estrogenic effects and many supplements also thin blood.

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Article copyright 2020 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.