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Nanotechnology Research: Applications in Nutritional Sciences


The tantalizing potential of nanotechnology is to fabricate and combine nanoscale approaches and building blocks to make useful tools and, ultimately, interventions for medical science, including nutritional science, at the scale of ~1–100 nm. In the past few years, tools and techniques that facilitate studies and interventions in the nanoscale range have become widely available and have drawn widespread attention. Recently, investigators in the food and nutrition sciences have been applying the tools of nanotechnology in their research. The Experimental Biology 2009 symposium entitled “Nanotechnology Research: Applications in Nutritional Sciences” was organized to highlight emerging applications of nanotechnology to the food and nutrition sciences, as well as to suggest ways for further integration of these emerging technologies into nutrition research. Speakers focused on topics that included the problems and possibilities of introducing nanoparticles in clinical or nutrition settings, nanotechnology applications for increasing bioavailability of bioactive food components in new food products, nanotechnology opportunities in food science, as well as emerging safety and regulatory issues in this area, and the basic research applications such as the use of quantum dots to visualize cellular processes and protein-protein interactions. The session highlighted several emerging areas of potential utility in nutrition research. Nutrition scientists are encouraged to leverage ongoing efforts in nanomedicine through collaborations. These efforts could facilitate exploration of previously inaccessible cellular compartments and intracellular pathways and thus uncover strategies for new prevention and therapeutic modalities.

Source: Srinivas, P. R., Philbert, M., Vu, T. Q., Huang, Q., Kokini, J. L., Saltos, E., Chen, H., Peterson, C. M., Friedl, K. E., McDade-Ngutter, C., Hubbard, V., Starke-Reed, P., Miller, N., Betz, J. M., Dwyer, J., Milner, J., & Ross, S. A.. “Nanotechnology research: applications in nutritional sciences.” The Journal of nutrition (2010), 140(1), 119–124.

Development of a Novel Nano­emulsion Formulation to Improve Intestinal Absorption of Cannabidiol


Background: Cannabidiol (CBD) is highly lipophilic, and its oral bioavailability is known to be very low in humans. In this study, we developed a novel nanoemulsion preparation of CBD (CBD-NE) to improve the poor solubility and absorption of CBD. The pharmacokinetic profiles of CBD in rats were evaluated after oral administrations of CBD oil and CBD-NE, and the effect of bile secretion on CBD absorption was also evaluated. Methods: The CBD-NE formulation developed in this study consisted of vitamin E acetate, ethanol, Tween-20, and distilled water (1.7/3.8/70/24.5, w/w%). A CBD oil formulation (CBD oil, control) 100 mg/kg or CBD-NE 50 mg/kg was orally administered to rats, and the blood samples were collected over time. Moreover, the CBD oil or CBD-NE was orally administered to bile-fistulated rats, and the pharmacokinetic profiles of CBD were also evaluated. CBD concentrations in plasma were measured using LC-MS/MS. Results: The particle size of CBD-NE was 35.3 ± 11.8 nm. Mean Tmax of CBD-NE was shortened significantly by the factor of 3 (from 8.00 to 2.40 h, p < 0.001) and AUC0–∞/dose increased by 65% (from 0.272 ± 0.045 to 0.448 ± 0.087 h L/kg) compared with CBD oil. AUC0–∞/dose and Cmax/dose after oral administration of CBD oil were significantly reduced by the factor of 27 and 23 (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01), respectively, in bile-fistulated rats compared with the untreated rats. In contrast, all pharmacokinetic parameters after oral administration of CBD-NE were not significantly different between the untreated and bile-fistulated rats. Therefore, these results demonstrated that conventional CBD oil formulation but not CBD-NE requires bile-mediated micelle formation. Conclusions: The novel NE formulation developed in this study successfully improved the absorption of CBD regardless of bile secretion. The newly developed oral CBD-NE preparation could be useful to achieve a more stable and quicker onset of action by CBD.

Source: Nakano Y. Tajima, M, Sugiyama, Sato, V.H.b “Development of a Novel Nano­emulsion Formulation to Improve Intestinal Absorption of Cannabidiol” Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids (2019);2:35–42.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids


Cardiac societies recommend the intake of 1 g/day of the two omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for cardiovascular disease prevention, treatment after a myocardial infarction, prevention of sudden death, and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. These recommendations are based on a body of scientific evidence that encompasses literally thousands of publications. Of four large scale intervention studies three also support the recommendations of these cardiac societies. One methodologically questionable study with a negative result led a Cochrane meta-analysis to a null conclusion. This null conclusion, however, has not swayed the recommendations of the cardiac societies mentioned, and has been refuted with good reason by scientific societies.

Based on the scientific evidence just mentioned, we propose a new risk factor to be considered for sudden cardiac death, the omega-3 index. It is measured in red blood cells, and is expressed as a percentage of EPA + DHA of total fatty acids. An omega-3 index of >8% is associated with 90% less risk for sudden cardiac death, as compared to an omega-3 index of <4%. The omega-3 index as a risk factor for sudden cardiac death has striking similarities to LDL as a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Moreover, the omega-3 index reflects the omega-3 fatty acid status of a given individual (analogous to HbA1c reflecting glucose homeostasis). The omega-3 index can therefore be used as a goal for treatment with EPA and DHA. As is the case now for LDL, in the future, the cardiac societies might very well recommend treatment with EPA and DHA to become goal oriented (e.g. an omega-3 index>8%).

Source: Clemens von Schacky, William S. Harris, “Cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids” Cardiovascular Research (2007), Volume 73, Issue 2, Pages 310–315,

Omega-3 fatty acids and dementia


More than a dozen epidemiological studies have reported that reduced levels or intake of omega-3 fatty acids or fish consumption is associated with increased risk for age-related cognitive decline or dementia such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Increased dietary consumption or blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) appear protective for AD and other dementia in multiple epidemiological studies; however, three studies suggest that the ApoE4 genotype limits protection. DHA is broadly neuroprotective via multiple mechanisms that include neuroprotective DHA metabolites, reduced arachidonic acid metabolites, and increased trophic factors or downstream trophic signal transduction. DHA is also protective against several risk factors for dementia including head trauma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. DHA is specifically protective against AD via additional mechanisms: It limits the production and accumulation of the amyloid beta peptide toxin that is widely believed to drive the disease; and it also suppresses several signal transduction pathways induced by Abeta, including two major kinases that phosphorylate the microtubule-associated protein tau and promote neurofibrillary tangle pathology. Based on the epidemiological and basic research data, expert panels have recommended the need for clinical trials with omega-3 fatty acids, notably DHA, for the prevention or treatment of age-related cognitive decline--with a focus on the most prevalent cause, AD. Clinical trials are underway to prevent and treat AD. Results to-date suggest that DHA may be more effective if it is begun early or used in conjunction with antioxidants.

Source: Cole GM, Ma QL, Frautschy SA. “Omega-3 fatty acids and dementia.” Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. (2009);81(2-3):213-21.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms


The changing of omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the food supply of Western societies occurred over the last 150 years is thought to promote the pathogenesis of many inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders. Several epidemiological studies reported a significant inverse correlation between intake of oily fish and depression or bipolar disorders. Studies conducted specifically on the association between omega-3 intake and depression reported contrasting results, suggesting that the preventive role of omega-3 PUFA may depend also on other factors, such as overall diet quality and the social environment. Accordingly, tertiary prevention with omega-3 PUFA supplement in depressed patients has reached greater effectiveness during the last recent years, although definitive statements on their use in depression therapy cannot be yet freely asserted. Among the biological properties of omega-3 PUFA, their anti-inflammatory effects and their important role on the structural changing of the brain should be taken into account to better understand the possible pathway through which they can be effective both in preventing or treating depression. However, the problem of how to correct the inadequate supply of omega-3 PUFA in the Westernized countries' diet is a priority in order to set food and health policies and also dietary recommendations for individuals and population groups.

Source: Grosso, G., Galvano, F., Marventano, S., Malaguarnera, M., Bucolo, C., Drago, F., & Caraci, F. “Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: scientific evidence and biological mechanisms.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity (2014), 313570.

The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Rheumatoid Arthritis


Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids thought to play a role in health and disease. They are known as essential fatty acids, as they cannot be synthesized in mammals. Omega-3 fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the secondary prevention of coronary artery disease and stroke and are essential for the development and function of the nervous system and the retina in man. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have immunomodulatory properties as they act as precursors to lipid mediators of inflammation which may limit or modulate the inflammatory response. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to prevent or attenuate experimental arthritis. They may have a beneficial effect in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may have a modulatory effect on disease activity, namely on the number of swollen and tender joints. It appears that omega-3 fatty acids may modulate disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: Kostoglou-Athanassiou, I., Athanassiou, L., & Athanassiou, P. “The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Mediterranean journal of rheumatology (2020); 31(2), 190–194.

Metabolic and immunomodulatory effects of n-3 fatty acids are different in mesenteric and epididymal adipose tissue of diet-induced obese mice.


In studies emphasizing antiobesogenic and anti-inflammatory effects of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-n-3 PUFA), diets with very high fat content, not well-defined fat quality, and extreme n-6/n-3 PUFA ratios have been applied frequently. Additionally, comparative analyses of visceral adipose tissues (VAT) were neglected. Considering the link of visceral obesity to insulin resistance or inflammatory bowel diseases, we hypothesized that VAT, especially mesenteric adipose tissue (MAT), may exhibit differential responsiveness to diets through modulation of metabolic and inflammatory processes. Here, we aimed to assess dietary LC-n-3 PUFA effects on MAT and epididymal adipose tissue (EAT) and on MAT-adjacent liver and intestine in diet-induced obese mice fed defined soybean/palm oil-based diets. High-fat (HF) and LC-n-3 PUFA-enriched high-fat diet (HF/n-3) contained moderately high fat with unbalanced and balanced n-6/n-3 PUFA ratios, respectively. Body composition/organ analyses, glucose tolerance test, measurements of insulin, lipids, mRNA and protein expression, and immunohistochemistry were applied. Compared with HF, HF/n-3 mice showed reduced fat mass, smaller adipocytes in MAT than EAT, improved insulin level, and lower hepatic triacylglycerol and plasma NEFA levels, consistent with liver and brown fat gene expression. Gene expression arrays pointed to immune cell activation in MAT and alleviation of intestinal endothelial cell activation. Validations demonstrated simultaneously upregulated pro- (TNFα, MCP-1) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines and M1/M2-macrophage markers in VAT and reduced CD4/CD8α expression in MAT and spleen. Our data revealed differential responsiveness to diets for VAT through preferentially metabolic alterations in MAT and inflammatory processes in EAT. LC-n-3 PUFA effects were pro- and anti-inflammatory and disclose T cell-immunosuppressive potential.

Source: Ludwig T, Worsch S, Heikenwalder M, Daniel H, Hauner H, Bader BL. “Metabolic and immunomodulatory effects of n-3 fatty acids are different in mesenteric and epididymal adipose tissue of diet-induced obese mice.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2013) ;304(11).

Omega-3 fatty acids and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adults and children: where do we stand?


Purpose of review: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic fatty liver disease worldwide. The incidence of NAFLD parallels the prevalence of obesity. Moreover, NAFLD can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular cancer (HCC). As such, NAFLD has become a major public health concern. We discuss recent clinical trials and meta-analyses evaluating the efficacy of C20-22 ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) to attenuate preexisting NAFLD in adults and children.

Recent findings: Humans with NAFLD and NASH; and preclinical mouse models of NASH, have a high abundance of hepatic saturated (SFA) and monounsaturated (MUFA) fat, but a low abundance of hepatic C20-22 ω3 PUFA. This change in hepatic fat type and abundance is associated with hepatic lipotoxicity, inflammation, oxidative stress and fibrosis. Recent meta-analyses and clinical trials evaluated the capacity of C20-22 ω3 PUFA dietary supplementation to improve health outcomes in adults and children with preexisting NAFLD. Diets supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22 : 6,ω3) alone or with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20 : 5,ω3) are tolerated and effective at lowering liver fat in NAFLD patients. However, outcomes are mixed with respect to C20-22 ω3 PUFA attenuation of more severe NAFLD markers, such as hepatic injury, inflammation and fibrosis.

Summary: These studies suggest that dietary supplementation with C20-22 ω3 PUFA should be considered as a viable and effective option to lower liver fat in obese adults and children with NAFLD.

Source: Spooner MH, Jump DB. “Omega-3 fatty acids and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adults and children: where do we stand?” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care (2019) ;22(2):103-110.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Insulin Resistance: Focus on the Regulation of Mitochondria and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress


Mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress have been suggested to play a key role in insulin resistance development. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and lipid accumulation due to mitochondrial dysfunction seemed to be important mechanisms leading to cellular insulin resistance. Moreover, mitochondria are functionally and structurally linked to ER, which undergoes stress in conditions of chronic overnutrition, activating the unfolded protein response, which in turn activates the principal inflammatory pathways that impair insulin action. Among the nutrients, dietary fats are believed to play key roles in insulin resistance onset. However, not all dietary fats exert the same effects on cellular energy metabolism. Dietary omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been suggested to counteract insulin resistance development by modulating mitochondrial bioenergetics and ER stress. In the current review, we summarized current knowledge on the role played by mitochondrial and ER stress in inflammation and insulin resistance onset, focusing on the modulation role of omega 3 PUFA on these stress pathways. Understanding the mechanisms by which omega 3 PUFA modulates cellular metabolism and insulin resistance in peripheral tissues may provide additional details on the potential impact of omega 3 PUFA on metabolic function and the management of insulin resistance in humans.

Source: Lepretti, M., Martucciello, S., Burgos Aceves, M. A., Putti, R., & Lionetti, L. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Insulin Resistance: Focus on the Regulation of Mitochondria and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress.” Nutrients(2018), 10(3), 350.

Calcium metabolism, osteoporosis and essential fatty acids: a review


Essential fatty acid (EFA)-deficient animals develop severe osteoporosis coupled with increased renal and arterial calcification. This picture is similar to that seen in osteoporosis in the elderly, where the loss of bone calcium is associated with ectopic calcification of other tissues, particularly the arteries and the kidneys. Recent mortality studies indicate that the ectopic calcification may be considerably more dangerous than the osteoporosis itself, since the great majority of excess deaths in women with osteoporosis are vascular and unrelated to fractures or other bone abnormalities. EFAs have now been shown to increase calcium absorption from the gut, in part by enhancing the effects of vitamin D, to reduce urinary excretion of calcium, to increase calcium deposition in bone and improve bone strength and to enhance the synthesis of bone collagen. These desirable actions are associated with reduced ectopic calcification. The interaction between EFA and calcium metabolism deserves further investigation since it may offer novel approaches to osteoporosis and also to the ectopic calcification associated with osteoporosis which seems to be responsible for so many deaths.

Source: Kruger MC, Horrobin DF. “Calcium metabolism, osteoporosis and essential fatty acids: a review.” Prog Lipid Res. (1997);36(2-3):131-51.

Circulating omega-3 Fatty acids and neovascular age-related macular degeneration


Purpose: We assessed the associations of serum, red blood cell membranes (RBCM) and dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Methods: We included 290 patients of the Nutritional AMD Treatment 2 Study (NAT2) with neovascular AMD in one eye and early AMD lesions in the other eye, and 144 normal vision controls without AMD. Dietary intake of seafood was estimated by food frequency questionnaire. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) composition in serum and RBCM were determined by gas chromatography from 12-hour fasting blood samples and was expressed as percentages of total fatty acids profile. Logistic regressions estimated associations of neovascular AMD with dietary intake of seafood and circulating n-3 LC-PUFAs.

Results: Dietary oily fish and seafood intake were significantly lower in AMD patients than in controls. After adjustment for all potential confounders (age, sex, CFH Y402H, ARMS2 A69S, and ApoE4 polymorphisms, plasma triglycerides, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and family history of AMD), serum EPA was associated significantly with a lower risk for neovascular AMD (odds ratio [OR] = 0.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.22-0.77; P = 0.005). Analysis of RBCM revealed that EPA and EPA+DHA were associated significantly with a lower risk for neovascular AMD (OR = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.13-0.47; P < 0.0001 and OR = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.29-0.94; P = 0.03, respectively).

Conclusions: The RBCM EPA and EPA+DHA, as long-term biomarkers of n-3 dietary PUFA status, were associated strongly with neovascular AMD and may represent an objective marker identifying subjects at high risk for neovascular AMD, who may most benefit from nutritional interventions. (http://www.controlled-trials.com/isrctn number, ISRCTN98246501).

Source: Merle BM, Benlian P, Puche N, Bassols A, Delcourt C, Souied EH; Nutritional AMD Treatment 2 Study Group. “Circulating omega-3 Fatty acids and neovascular age-related macular degeneration.” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. (2014);55(3):2010-9.

Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, and Heart Rate Variability


Study Objectives: This study investigated the effects of fatty fish on sleep, daily functioning and biomarkers such as heart rate variability (HRV), vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) in red blood cells. Moreover the relationship among sleep, daily functioning, HRV, vitamin D status, and levels of EPA+DHA was investigated.

Methods: Ninety-five male forensic patients from a secure forensic inpatient facility in the USA were randomly assigned into a Fish or a Control group. The Fish group received Atlantic salmon three times per week from September to February, and the Control group was provided an alternative meal (e.g., chicken, pork, beef), but with the same nutritional value as their habitual diet, three times per week during the same period. Sleep (sleep latency, sleep efficiency, actual sleep time, and actual wake time), self-perceived sleep quality and daily functioning, as well as vitamin D status, EPA+DHA, and HRV, were assessed pre- and post-intervention period.

Results: There was a significant increase in sleep latency from pre- to post-test in the Control group. The Fish group reported better daily functioning than the Control group during post-test. Fish consumption throughout the wintertime had also an effect on resting HRV and EPA+DHA, but not on vitamin D status. However, at post-test, the vitamin D status in the Fish group was still closer to the level regarded as optimal compared to the Control group. Vitamin D status correlated negatively with actual wake time and positively with sleep efficiency during pre-test, as well as positively with daily functioning and sleep quality during post-test. Finally, HRV correlated negatively with sleep latency and positively with daily functioning.

Conclusions: Fish consumption seemed to have a positive impact on sleep in general and also on daily functioning, which may be related to vitamin D status and HRV.

Source: Hansen, A. L., Dahl, L., Olson, G., Thornton, D., Graff, I. E., Frøyland, L., Thayer, J. F., & Pallesen, S. “Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2014), 10(5), 567–575.

Association between dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and severity of skin photoaging in a middle-aged Caucasian population


Background: Intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) supplementation has been reported to be associated with reduced UVB-erythemal sensitivity, but their relationship to photoaging has not been studied to date.

Objective: To investigate associations between daily n-3 PUFA intake and the severity of skin photoaging.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 2919 subjects aged 45-60 years from the SU.VI.MAX cohort. At baseline, trained investigators graded the severity of facial skin photoaging using a validated 6-grade scale during a clinical examination. Intake of α-linolenic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosapentaenoic (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) were evaluated by dietary source using ten 24-h dietary record questionnaires during the first 2.5 years of the follow-up period.

Results: After adjustment for possible confounders, severe photoaging was found to be inversely associated with higher intake of ALA in men and with higher intake of EPA in women. When considering the different food sources of ALA for men, an inverse association appeared between severe photoaging and ALA from vegetable oils, as well as with ALA from fruit and vegetables, whereas no association was observed for ALA from dairy products. In women, ALA from vegetable oils also tended to be inversely linked to photoaging.

Conclusions: These findings suggest a possible benefit effect of n-3 PUFAs on skin aging. Nonetheless, further epidemiological studies are necessary to confirm our results and to gain additional insights into underlying mechanisms.

Source: Latreille J, Kesse-Guyot E, Malvy D, Andreeva V, Galan P, Tschachler E, Hercberg S, Guinot C, Ezzedine K. “Association between dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and severity of skin photoaging in a middle-aged Caucasian population.” J Dermatol Sci. (2013);72(3):233-9.


Oxidative Stress Regulation on Endothelial Cells by Hydrophilic Astaxanthin Complex: Chemical, Biological, and Molecular Antioxidant Activity Evaluation


An imbalance in the reactive oxygen species (ROS) homeostasis is involved in the pathogenesis of oxidative stress-related diseases. Astaxanthin, a xanthophyll carotenoid with high antioxidant capacities, has been shown to prevent the first stages of oxidative stress. Here, we evaluate the antioxidant capacities of astaxanthin included within hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin (CD-A) to directly and indirectly reduce the induced ROS production. First, chemical methods were used to corroborate the preservation of astaxanthin antioxidant abilities after inclusion. Next, antioxidant scavenging properties of CD-A to inhibit the cellular and mitochondrial ROS by reducing the disturbance in the redox state of the cell and the infiltration of lipid peroxidation radicals were evaluated. Finally, the activation of endogenous antioxidant PTEN/AKT, Nrf2/HO-1, and NQOI gene and protein expression supported the protective effect of CD-A complex on human endothelial cells under stress conditions. Moreover, a nontoxic effect on HUVEC was registered after CD-A complex supplementation. The results reported here illustrate the need to continue exploring the interesting properties of this hydrophilic antioxidant complex to assist endogenous systems to counteract the ROS impact on the induction of cellular oxidative stress state.

Source: M. Zuluaga, A. Barzegari, D. Letourneur, V. Gueguen, G. Pavon-Djavid, "Oxidative Stress Regulation on Endothelial Cells by Hydrophilic Astaxanthin Complex: Chemical, Biological, and Molecular Antioxidant Activity Evaluation", Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, Article ID 8073798, 15 pages.

Effects of 3-Month Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction-A Pilot Study


Astaxanthin has strong antioxidant properties. We conducted a prospective pilot study on heart failure (HF) patients with left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction to investigate improvements in cardiac function and exercise tolerance in relation to suppression of oxidative stress by 3-month astaxanthin supplementation. Oxidative stress markers—serum Diacron reactive oxygen metabolite (dROM), biological antioxidant potential (BAP), and urinary 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) concentrations, LV ejection fraction (LVEF), and 6-min walk distance (6MWD) were assessed before and after 3-month astaxanthin supplementation. Finally, the data of 16 HF patients were analyzed. Following 3-month astaxanthin supplementation, dROM level decreased from 385.6 ± 82.6 U.CARR to 346.5 ± 56.9 U.CARR (p = 0.041) despite no changes in BAP and urinary 8-OHdG levels. LVEF increased from 34.1 ± 8.6% to 38.0 ± 10.0% (p = 0.031) and 6MWD increased from 393.4 ± 95.9 m to 432.8 ± 93.3 m (p = 0.023). Significant relationships were observed between percent changes in dROM level and those in LVEF. In this study, following 3-month astaxanthin supplementation, suppressed oxidative stress and improved cardiac contractility and exercise tolerance were observed in HF patients with LV systolic dysfunction. Correlation between suppression of oxidative stress and improvement of cardiac contractility suggests that suppression of oxidative stress by astaxanthin supplementation had therapeutic potential to improve cardiac functioning.

Source: Kato T, Kasai T, Sato A, Ishiwata S, Yatsu S, Matsumoto H, Shitara J, Murata A, Shimizu M, Suda S, Hiki M, Naito R, Daida H. “Effects of 3-Month Astaxanthin Supplementation on Cardiac Function in Heart Failure Patients with Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction-A Pilot Study.” Nutrients (2020); 12(6):1896.

Astaxanthin: A Potential Mitochondrial-Targeted Antioxidant Treatment in Diseases and with Aging


Oxidative stress is characterized by an imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant species, leading to macromolecular damage and disruption of redox signaling and cellular control. It is a hallmark of various diseases including metabolic syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, inflammatory, and age-related diseases. Several mitochondrial defects have been considered to contribute to the development of oxidative stress and known as the major mediators of the aging process and subsequent age-associated diseases. Thus, mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants should prevent or slow down these processes and prolong longevity. This is the reason why antioxidant treatments are extensively studied and newer and newer compounds with such an effect appear. Astaxanthin, a xanthophyll carotenoid, is the most abundant carotenoid in marine organisms and is one of the most powerful natural compounds with remarkable antioxidant activity. Here, we summarize its antioxidant targets, effects, and benefits in diseases and with aging.

Source: Sztretye, M., Dienes, B., Gönczi, M., Czirják, T., Csernoch, L., Dux, L., Szentesi, P., & Keller-Pintér, A. “Astaxanthin: A Potential Mitochondrial-Targeted Antioxidant Treatment in Diseases and with Aging.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity (2019), 3849692.

Astragaloside II triggers T cell activation through regulation of CD45 protein tyrosine phosphatase activity


Aim: To investigate the immunomodulating activity of astragalosides, the active compounds from a traditional tonic herb Astragalus membranaceus Bge, and to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the actions, focusing on CD45 protein tyrosine phosphatase (CD45 PTPase), which plays a critical role in T lymphocyte activation.

Methods: Primary splenocytes and T cells were prepared from mice. CD45 PTPase activity was assessed using a colorimetric assay. Cell proliferation was measured using a [3H]-thymidine incorporation assay. Cytokine proteins and mRNAs were examined with ELISA and RT-PCR, respectively. Activation markers, including CD25 and CD69, were analyzed using flow cytometry. Activation of LCK (Tyr505) was detected using Western blot analysis. Mice were injected with the immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide (CTX, 80 mg/kg), and administered astragaloside II (50 mg/kg).

Results: Astragaloside I, II, III, and IV concentration-dependently increased the CD45-mediated of pNPP/OMFP hydrolysis with the EC50 values ranged from 3.33 to 10.42 μg/mL. Astragaloside II (10 and 30 nmol/L) significantly enhanced the proliferation of primary splenocytes induced by ConA, alloantigen or anti-CD3. Astragaloside II (30 nmol/L) significantly increased IL-2 and IFN-γ secretion, upregulated the mRNA levels of IFN-γ and T-bet in primary splenocytes, and promoted CD25 and CD69 expression on primary CD4+ T cells upon TCR stimulation. Furthermore, astragaloside II (100 nmol/L) promoted CD45-mediated dephosphorylation of LCK (Tyr505) in primary T cells, which could be blocked by a specific CD45 PTPase inhibitor. In CTX-induced immunosuppressed mice, oral administration of astragaloside II restored the proliferation of splenic T cells and the production of IFN-γ and IL-2. However, astragaloside II had no apparent effects on B cell proliferation.

Conclusion: Astragaloside II enhances T cell activation by regulating the activity of CD45 PTPase, which may explain why Astragalus membranaceus Bge is used as a tonic herb in treating immunosuppressive diseases.

Source: Wan, C.P. et al. “Astragaloside II triggers T cell activation through regulation of CD45 protein tyrosine phosphatase activity.” Acta Pharmacol Sin (2013). 34(4):522–30.

Effects of astragalus on cardiac function and serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha level in patients with chronic heart failure


Objective: To explore the effects of Astragalus on cardiac function and serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) level in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF).

Methods: Forty-five patients of Xin-qi deficiency or Xin-yang deficiency types were assigned to the Chinese medicine (CM) group and the Western medicine (WM) group by a randomizing digital table. Standard treatment for correcting heart failure, including digoxin, diuretics, etc. was administered to both groups, but to the CM group oral medication of Astragalus granule was given additionally at the dosage of 2.25 g twice a day, the treatment for both was continued for two weeks. NYHA cardiac functional grading, serum TNF-alpha level, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and walk distance in 6 min (WD) were measured before and after treatment, and a correlation analysis was carried out.

Results: After therapy, the level of TNF-alpha in the two groups decreased (P < 0.05) and it was lower in the CM group [(54.77 +/- 9.34) microg/L] than in the WM group [(62.10 +/- 9.94) microg/L] (P < 0.05); LVEF in the two groups increased (P < 0.05) and it was higher in the CM group [(64.45 +/- 12.47)%] than that in the WM group [(56.03 +/- 13.33)%] (P < 0.05); both groups' WD increased (P < 0.05) and it was longer in the CM group [(446.97 +/- 68.82) m] than in the WM group [(345.40 +/- 63.62) m] (P < 0.05); the improvement of cardiac functional grading in the CM group was outstriper than the WM group (P < 0.05). The improvement in cardiac function was negatively correlated with TNF-alpha level.

Conclusion: Astragalus can alleviate the calcium overload-induced myocardial damage and improve both systolic and diastolic functions of heart in patients with CHF.

Source: Yang QY, Lu S, Sun HR. [Effects of astragalus on cardiac function and serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha level in patients with chronic heart failure]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2010 Jul;30(7):699-701.

Pain relieving and protective effects of Astragalus hydroalcoholic extract in rat arthritis models


Objectives: The evaluation of the pharmacological profile of the dried 50% hydroalcoholic extract (50%HA) of Astragali radix in two different animal models of articular damage resembling osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Methods: Sodium monoiodoacetate (MIA) or complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) was intra‐articular injected (day 0) in the rat tibiotarsal joint to induce damages mimicking osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Pain measurements (responses to non‐noxious and noxious stimuli, spontaneous pain, articular pain) were assessed on days 7 and 14. On day 14, the tibiotarsal joints were explanted in order to measure the diameter and to assess histological evaluations. Furthermore, the plasmatic concentrations of inflammatory and anti‐inflammatory cytokines were measured.

Key findings: A single administration of 50%HA (300 mg/kg per os) significantly reduced both MIA‐induced pain and CFA‐induced pain (78% and 96% pain relief, respectively). The repeated administration prevented the development of hypersensitivity on day 14. The haematoxylin/eosin staining revealed that 50% HA attenuated joint alterations in MIA‐injected rats, and furthermore, the joint inflammatory infiltrate was reduced in both models (by about 50%). In CFA‐treated rats, 50%HA lowered the plasmatic levels of the pro‐inflammatory cytokines interleukin‐1β and tumour necrosis factor‐α as well as the joint diameter.

Conclusions: The 50% hydroalcoholic extract of Astragali radix is a valuable candidate for the adjuvant treatment of articular diseases.

Source: Mario Maresca, Laura Micheli, Lorenzo Cinci, Anna Rita Bilia, Carla Ghelardini, Lorenzo Di Cesare Mannelli. “Pain relieving and protective effects of Astragalus hydroalcoholic extract in rat arthritis models.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology (2017), 69 (12); 1858-1870.

Hypoglycemic effect of Astragalus polysaccharide and its effect on PTP1B


Aim: To examine the effects of Astragalus polysaccharide (APS), a component of an aqueous extract of Astragalus membranaceus roots, on protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), a negative regulator of insulin-receptor (IR) signal transduction, and its potential role in the amelioration of insulin resistance.

Methods: Ten-week-old fat-fed streptozotocin (STZ)-treated rats, an animal model of type II diabetes mellitus (TIIDM), were treated with APS (400 mg/kg p.o.) for 5 weeks. Insulin sensitivity was identified by the insulin-tolerance test. Further analyses on the possible changes in insulin signaling occurring in skeletal muscle and liver were performed by immunoprecipitation or Western blotting. PTP1B activity was measured by an assay kit.

Results: The diabetic rats responded to APS with a significant decrease in body weight, plasma glucose, and improved insulin sensitivity. The activity and expression of PTP1B were elevated in the skeletal muscle and liver of TIIDM rats. Thus the insulin signaling in target tissues was diminished. APS reduced both PTP1B protein level and activity in the muscle, but not in the liver of TIIDM rats. Insulin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the IR beta-subunit and insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) were increased in the muscle, but not in the liver of APS-treated TIIDM rats. There was no change in the activity or expression of PTP1B in APS-treated normal rats, and blood insulin levels did not change in TIIDM rats after treatment with APS.

Conclusion: APS enables insulin-sensitizing and hypoglycemic activity at least in part by decreasing the elevated expression and activity of PTP1B in the skeletal muscles of TIIDM rats.

Source: Wu Y, Ou-Yang JP, Wu K, Wang Y, Zhou YF, Wen CY. Hypoglycemic effect of Astragalus polysaccharide and its effect on PTP1B. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2005 Mar;26(3):345-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7254.2005.00062.x.

Cat’s Claw - Uncaria tomentosa

The Amazon rain forest plant Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) and its specific proanthocyanidin constituents are potent inhibitors and reducers of both brain plaques and tangles


Brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease both demonstrate the accumulation of beta-amyloid protein containing “plaques” and tau protein containing “tangles” that contribute to accelerated memory loss and cognitive decline. In the present investigation we identified a specific plant extract and its constituents as a potential alternative natural solution for preventing and reducing both brain “plaques and tangles”. PTI-00703 cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa from a specific Peruvian source), a specific and natural plant extract from the Amazon rain forest, was identified as a potent inhibitor and reducer of both beta-amyloid fibrils (the main component of “plaques”) and tau protein paired helical filaments/fibrils (the main component of “tangles”). PTI-00703 cat’s claw demonstrated both the ability to prevent formation/aggregation and disaggregate preformed Aβ fibrils (1–42 and 1–40) and tau protein tangles/filaments. The disaggregation/dissolution of Aβ fibrils occurred nearly instantly when PTI-00703 cat’s claw and Aβ fibrils were mixed together as shown by a variety of methods including Thioflavin T fluorometry, Congo red staining, Thioflavin S fluorescence and electron microscopy. Sophisticated structural elucidation studies identified the major fractions and specific constituents within PTI-00703 cat’s claw responsible for both the observed “plaque” and “tangle” inhibitory and reducing activity. Specific proanthocyanidins (i.e. epicatechin dimers and variants thereof) are newly identified polyphenolic components within Uncaria tomentosa that possess both “plaque and tangle” reducing and inhibitory activity. One major identified specific polyphenol within PTI-00703 cat’s claw was epicatechin-4β-8-epicatechin (i.e. an epicatechin dimer known as proanthocyanidin B2) that markedly reduced brain plaque load and improved short-term memory in younger and older APP “plaque-producing” (TASD-41) transgenic mice (bearing London and Swedish mutations). Proanthocyanidin B2 was also a potent inhibitor of brain inflammation as shown by reduction in astrocytosis and gliosis in TASD-41 transgenic mice. Blood-brain-barrier studies in Sprague-Dawley rats and CD-1 mice indicated that the major components of PTI-00703 cat’s claw crossed the blood-brain-barrier and entered the brain parenchyma within 2 minutes of being in the blood. The discovery of a natural plant extract from the Amazon rain forest plant (i.e. Uncaria tomentosa or cat’s claw) as both a potent “plaque and tangle” inhibitor and disaggregator is postulated to represent a potential breakthrough for the natural treatment of both normal brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Snow, A.D., Castillo, G.M., Nguyen, B.P. et al. “The Amazon rain forest plant Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) and its specific proanthocyanidin constituents are potent inhibitors and reducers of both brain plaques and tangles.” Sci Rep 9, 561 (2019).

Neuroprotective effects of rhynchophylline against ischemic brain injury via regulation of the Akt/mTOR and TLRs signaling pathways


Rhynchophylline (Rhy) is an alkaloid isolated from Uncaria which has long been recommended for the treatment of central nervous diseases. In our study, the neuroprotective effect of Rhy was investigated in a stroke model, namely permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO). Rats were injected intraperitoneally once daily for four consecutive days before surgery and then received one more injection after surgery. The protein and mRNA levels of p-Akt, p-mTOR, apoptosis-related proteins (p-BAD and cleaved caspase-3), TLR2/4/9, NF-κB, MyD88, BDNF and claudin-5 were examined. Following pMCAO, Rhy treatment not only ameliorated neurological deficits, infarct volume and brain edema, but also increased claudin-5 and BDNF expressions (p < 0.05). Moreover, Rhy could activate PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling while inhibiting TLRs/NF-κB pathway. Wortmannin, a selective PI3K inhibitor, could abolish the neuroprotective effect of Rhy and reverse the increment in p-Akt, p-mTOR and p-BAD levels. In conclusion, we hypothesize that Rhy protected against ischemic damage, probably via regulating the Akt/mTOR pathway.

Source: Huang H, Zhong R, Xia Z, Song J, Feng L. “Neuroprotective effects of rhynchophylline against ischemic brain injury via regulation of the Akt/mTOR and TLRs signaling pathways.” Molecules. (2014 Jul 30);19(8):11196-210.

[Cat's Claw: an herb from the Peruvian Amazon]


AIDS: Uncaria tomentosa, also known as cat's claw, an herb from the highlands of the Peruvian Amazon, has been used by natives for hundreds of years to treat immunologic and digestive disorders. Research began in the 1970s to discover the benefits of this plant in relieving symptoms of cancers, arthritis, and other ailments. It has the ability to cleanse the digestive tract, aiding victims of Crohn's, colitis, gastritis and more. In a 1989 study by Klaus Keplinger, several alkaloid oxidants found in the plant's roots showed an ability to stimulate the immune system. The principal alkaloids are isopteropodine and rynchophyiline. Extracts of cat's claw mixed with AZT in an experimental drug, called Krallendom, were effective in reducing symptoms in AIDS patients in Austria. The plant has been useful in reducing secondary effects of radiation and chemotherapy in cancer victims as well.

Source: Steinberg PN. “Una de Gato: una hierba prodigiosa de la selva humeda Peruana [Cat's Claw: an herb from the Peruvian Amazon].” Sidahora (1995 Apr-May):35-6. Spanish

Persistent response to pneumococcal vaccine in individuals supplemented with a novel water soluble extract of Uncaria tomentosa, C-Med-100


A human intervention study was carried out using male volunteers attending a General Practice Clinic in New York City involving comparison of individuals supplemented with 350 mg x 2 C-Med-100 daily dose for two months with untreated controls for their abilities to respond to a 23 valent pneumococcal vaccine. C-Med-100 is a novel nutraceutical extract from the South American plant Uncaria tomentosa or Cat's Claw which is known to possess immune enhancing and antiinflammatory properties in animals. There were no toxic side effects observed as judged by medical examination, clinical chemistry and blood cell analysis. However, statistically significant immune enhancement for the individuals on C-Med-100 supplement was observed by (i) an elevation in the lymphocyte/neutrophil ratios of peripheral blood and (ii) a reduced decay in the 12 serotype antibody titer responses to pneumococcal vaccination at 5 months.

Source: Lamm S, Sheng Y, Pero RW. “Persistent response to pneumococcal vaccine in individuals supplemented with a novel water soluble extract of Uncaria tomentosa, C-Med-100.” Phytomedicine (2001 Jul);8(4):267-74.

Early relief of osteoarthritis symptoms with a natural mineral supplement and a herbomineral combination: A randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN38432711]


Background: This study was designed to determine if a natural mineral supplement, sierrasil, alone and in combination with a cat's claw extract (Uncaria guianensis), vincaria, has therapeutic potential in mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee.

Methods: Patients (n = 107) with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups; high dose sierrasil (3 g/day), low dose sierrasil (2 g/day), low dose sierrasil (2 g/day) + cat's claw extract (100 mg/day) or placebo, administered for 8 weeks. Treatment was double blinded. Primary efficacy variables were WOMAC scores (A, B, C and total). Visual analog score (VAS) for pain, consumption of rescue medication (paracetamol), and tolerability were secondary variables. Safety measures included vital signs and laboratory-based assays.

Results: Ninety-one of the 107 patients successfully completed the protocol. All four groups showed improvement in WOMAC and VAS scores after 8 weeks (p < 0.001), in all 3 groups receiving sierrasil the magnitude of benefits were greater vs. placebo (WOMAC Total 38–43% vs. 27%) but this was not statistically significant. In reference to baseline values sierrasil treated groups had a considerably faster onset of benefits. Placebo-treated individuals failed to show significant benefits at 4 weeks (11% reduction in total WOMAC). In contrast, after 1 or 2 weeks of therapy all the sierrasil groups displayed significant reductions in WOMAC scores (p < 0.05) and at week 4 displayed a 38–43% improvement. VAS was significantly improved at 4 weeks in all groups (p < 0.001) but was significantly greater in all sierrasil groups compared to placebo (p < 0.05). Rescue medication use was 28-23% lower in the herbomineral combination and high dose sierrasil groups although not statistically different from placebo (P = 0.101 and P = 0.193, respectively). Tolerability was good for all groups, no serious adverse events were noted and safety parameters remained unchanged.

Conclusion: The natural mineral supplement, sierrasil alone and in combination with a cat's claw extract, improved joint health and function within 1–2 weeks of treatment but significant benefits over placebo were not sustained, possibly due to rescue medication masking. Sierrasil may offer an alternative therapy in subjects with joint pain and dysfunction.

Source: Miller, M. J., Mehta, K., Kunte, S., Raut, V., Gala, J., Dhumale, R., Shukla, A., Tupalli, H., Parikh, H., Bobrowski, P., & Chaudhary, J. “Early relief of osteoarthritis symptoms with a natural mineral supplement and a herbomineral combination: a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN38432711].” Journal of inflammation (2005), 2, 11.

Uncaria tomentosa—Adjuvant Treatment for Breast Cancer: Clinical Trial


Breast cancer is the most frequent neoplasm affecting women worldwide. Some of the recommended treatments involve chemotherapy whose toxic effects include leukopenia and neutropenia. This study assessed the effectiveness of Uncaria tomentosa (Ut) in reducing the adverse effects of chemotherapy through a randomized clinical trial. Patients with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma—Stage II, who underwent a treatment regimen known as FAC (Fluorouracil, Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide), were divided into two groups: the UtCa received chemotherapy plus 300 mg dry Ut extract per day and the Ca group that only received chemotherapy and served as the control experiment. Blood samples were collected before each one of the six chemotherapy cycles and blood counts, immunological parameters, antioxidant enzymes, and oxidative stress were analyzed. Uncaria tomentosa reduced the neutropenia caused by chemotherapy and was also able to restore cellular DNA damage. We concluded that Ut is an effective adjuvant treatment for breast cancer.

Source: Santos Araújo, M., Farias, I. L., Gutierres, J., Dalmora, S. L., Flores, N., Farias, J., de Cruz, I., Chiesa, J., Morsch, V. M., & Chitolina Schetinger, M. R. “Uncaria tomentosa-Adjuvant Treatment for Breast Cancer: Clinical Trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, (2012), 676984.

A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin


Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) water extracts, essentially free of oxindole alkaloids, have been shown to possess a broad spectrum of biological activity including DNA repair enhancement and antiinflammatory properties. These two biological mechanisms are key molecular targets to develop treatments that protect skin exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. Because C-Med-100, a Cat's Claw water extract, is the only documented natural source of components that can up-regulate simultaneously both DNA repair and antiinflammation, its ability to modulate DNA repair in human skin organ cultures was undertaken. For this purpose skin cultures were treated with or without 5 mg/mL C-Med-100, irradiated with 0-100 mJ/cm2 UVB, and microscopically analysed for necrosis as well as the level of pyrimidine dimers using immunofluorescent TT-dimer antibody staining. The data clearly demonstrated that co-incubation with C-Med-100 reduced skin cell death from UV exposure, and this protection was accounted for by a concomitant increase in DNA repair. Based on these results, it was concluded that C-Med-100 was a natural plant extract worthy of further consideration as a sunscreen product.

Source: Mammone T, Akesson C, Gan D, Giampapa V, Pero RW. “A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin.” Phytother Res. (2006 Mar);20(3):178-83.


A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults


Context: Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension, which can lead to underperformance and adverse clinical conditions. Adaptogens are herbs that help in combating stress. Ayurvedic classical texts, animal studies and clinical studies describe Ashwagandha as a safe and effective adaptogen.

Aims: The aim of the study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha roots in reducing stress and anxiety and in improving the general well-being of adults who were under stress.

Settings and design: Single center, prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Materials and methods: A total of 64 subjects with a history of chronic stress were enrolled into the study after performing relevant clinical examinations and laboratory tests. These included a measurement of serum cortisol, and assessing their scores on standard stress-assessment questionnaires. They were randomized to either the placebo control group or the study drug treatment group, and were asked to take one capsule twice a day for a period of 60 days. In the study drug treatment group, each capsule contained 300 mg of high-concentration full-spectrum extract from the root of the Ashwagandha plant. During the treatment period (on Day 15, Day 30 and Day 45), a follow-up telephone call was made to all subjects to check for treatment compliance and to note any adverse reactions. Final safety and efficacy assessments were done on Day 60.

Statistical analysis: t-test, Mann-Whitney test.

Results: The treatment group that was given the high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in scores on all the stress-assessment scales on Day 60, relative to the placebo group. The serum cortisol levels were substantially reduced (P=0.0006) in the Ashwagandha group, relative to the placebo group. The adverse effects were mild in nature and were comparable in both the groups. No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.

Source: Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian J Psychol Med. (2012);34(3):255-62.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera


A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy an ethanolic extract of Aswagandha (Withania somnifera), in patients with ICD-10 anxiety disorders. The sample comprised 39 subjects, of whom 20 received the drug and 19 received placebo. The two groups were sociodemographically and clinically similar at baseline. At 2 and 6 weeks follow-up, data from approximately 85% of patients in each group were available for analysis. Statistical trends favouring the drug were observed at both time points. At 6 weeks, significantly more patients met a priori response criteria in the drug group (88.2%) as compared with the placebo group (50%). The drug was well-tolerated and did not occasion more adverse effects than did placebo. It is concluded that this ethanolic extract of Withania somnifera has useful anxiolytic potential and merits further investigation.

Source: Andrade C, Aswath A, Chaturvedi SK, Srinivasa M, Raguram R. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera.” Indian J Psychiatry. (2000 Jul);42(3):295-301.

Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract - A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial


Chronic stress has been associated with a number of illnesses, including obesity. Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen and known for reducing stress and anxiety in humans. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a standardized root extract of Ashwagandha through a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 52 subjects under chronic stress received either Ashwagandha (300 mg) or placebo twice daily. Primary efficacy measures were Perceived Stress Scale and Food Cravings Questionnaire. Secondary efficacy measures were Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, serum cortisol, body weight, and body mass index. Each subject was assessed at the start and at 4 and 8 weeks. The treatment with Ashwagandha resulted in significant improvements in primary and secondary measures. Also, the extract was found to be safe and tolerable. The outcome of this study suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress.

Source: Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Joshi, K. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine (2017), 22(1), 96–106.

Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study


Background: Many women experience sexual dysfunction where there are orgasm disorders and sexual difficulties. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a herb known to improve the body's physical and psychological condition.

Objective: The purpose of the study was to determine the efficacy and safety of a high-concentration ashwagandha root extract (HCARE) supplementation for improving sexual function in healthy females.

Methods: In this pilot study, 50 study subjects were randomized to either (i) HCARE-treated group or (ii) placebo- (starch-) treated group. The subjects consumed either HCARE or placebo capsules of 300mg twice daily for 8 weeks. Sexual function was assessed using two psychometric scales, the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) Questionnaire and the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), and by the number of total and successful sexual encounters.

Results: The analysis indicates that treatment with HCARE leads to significantly higher improvement, relative to placebo, in the FSFI Total score (p < 0.001), FSFI domain score for "arousal" (p < 0.001), "lubrication" (p < 0.001), "orgasm" (p = 0.004), and "satisfaction" (p < 0.001), and also FSDS score (p < 0.001) and the number of successful sexual encounters (p < 0.001) at the end of the treatment.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that oral administration of HCARE may improve sexual function in healthy women. The present study is registered in the Clinical Trial Registry, Government of India, with a number CTRI/2015/07/006045.

Source: Dongre S, Langade D, Bhattacharyya S. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study.” Biomed Res Int. (2015);284154.

Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been described in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac that can be used to treat male sexual dysfunction and infertility. This pilot study was conducted to evaluate the spermatogenic activity of Ashwagandha root extract in oligospermic patients. Forty-six male patients with oligospermia (sperm count < 20 million/mL semen) were enrolled and randomized either to treatment (n = 21) with a full-spectrum root extract of Ashwagandha (675 mg/d in three doses for 90 days) or to placebo (n = 25) in the same protocol. Semen parameters and serum hormone levels were estimated at the end of 90-day treatment. There was a 167% increase in sperm count (9.59 ± 4.37 × 10(6)/mL to 25.61 ± 8.6 × 10(6)/mL; P < 0.0001), 53% increase in semen volume (1.74 ± 0.58 mL to 2.76 ± 0.60 mL; P < 0.0001), and 57% increase in sperm motility (18.62 ± 6.11% to 29.19 ± 6.31%; P < 0.0001) on day 90 from baseline. The improvement in these parameters was minimal in the placebo-treated group. Furthermore, a significantly greater improvement and regulation were observed in serum hormone levels with the Ashwagandha treatment as compared to the placebo. The present study adds to the evidence on the therapeutic value of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), as attributed in Ayurveda for the treatment of oligospermia leading to infertility.

Source: Ambiye VR, Langade D, Dongre S, Aptikar P, Kulkarni M, Dongre A. “Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2013); 2013:571420.

Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial


Background: Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) is a prominent herb in Ayurveda. This study was conducted to examine the possible effects of ashwagandha root extract consumption on muscle mass and strength in healthy young men engaged in resistance training.

Methods: In this 8-week, randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, 57 young male subjects (18–50 years old) with little experience in resistance training were randomized into treatment (29 subjects) and placebo (28 subjects) groups. Subjects in the treatment group consumed 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily, while the control group consumed starch placebos. Following baseline measurements, both groups of subjects underwent resistance training for 8 weeks and measurements were repeated at the end of week 8. The primary efficacy measure was muscle strength. The secondary efficacy measures were muscle size, body composition, serum testosterone levels and muscle recovery. Muscle strength was evaluated using the 1-RM load for the bench press and leg extension exercises. Muscle recovery was evaluated by using serum creatine kinase level as a marker of muscle injury from the effects of exercise.

Results: Compared to the placebo subjects, the group treated with ashwagandha had significantly greater increases in muscle strength on the bench-press exercise (Placebo: 26.4 kg, 95 % CI, 19.5, 33.3 vs. Ashwagandha: 46.0 kg, 95 % CI 36.6, 55.5; p = 0.001) and the leg-extension exercise (Placebo: 9.8 kg, 95 % CI, 7.2,12.3 vs. Ashwagandha: 14.5 kg, 95 % CI, 10.8,18.2; p = 0.04), and significantly greater muscle size increase at the arms (Placebo: 5.3 cm2, 95 % CI, 3.3,7.2 vs. Ashwagandha: 8.6 cm2, 95 % CI, 6.9,10.8; p = 0.01) and chest (Placebo: 1.4 cm, 95 % CI, 0.8, 2.0 vs. Ashwagandha: 3.3 cm, 95 % CI, 2.6, 4.1; p < 0.001). Compared to the placebo subjects, the subjects receiving ashwagandha also had significantly greater reduction of exercise-induced muscle damage as indicated by the stabilization of serum creatine kinase (Placebo: 1307.5 U/L, 95 % CI, 1202.8, 1412.1, vs. Ashwagandha: 1462.6 U/L, 95 % CI, 1366.2, 1559.1; p = 0.03), significantly greater increase in testosterone level (Placebo: 18.0 ng/dL, 95 % CI, -15.8, 51.8 vs. Ashwagandha: 96.2 ng/dL, 95 % CI, 54.7, 137.5; p = 0.004), and a significantly greater decrease in body fat percentage (Placebo: 1.5 %, 95 % CI, 0.4 %, 2.6 % vs. Ashwagandha: 3.5 %, 95 % CI, 2.0 %, 4.9 %; p = 0.03).

Conclusion: This study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength and suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program.

Source: Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. “Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2015), 12, 43.

Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root


Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effects of roots of W. somnifera (ashvagandha) were assessed on human subjects. Six mild NIDDM subjects and six mild hypercholesterolemic subjects were treated with the powder of roots of W. somnifera for 30 days. Suitable parameters were studied in the blood and urine samples of the subjects along with dietary pattern before and at the end of treatment period. Decrease in blood glucose was comparable to that of an oral hypoglycemic drug. Significant increase in urine sodium, urine volume, significant decrease in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL (low density lipoproteins) and VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) cholesterol were observed indicating that root of W. somnifera is a potential source of hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic agents. Clinical observations revealed no adverse effects.

Source: Andallu B, Radhika B. “Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.” Indian J Exp Biol. (2000) ;38(6):607-9.

Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats


Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (WS) Dunal (Solanaceae) were investigated in hypercholesteremic male albino rats. When the root powder of WS was added to the diet at 0.75 and 1.5 gm/rat/day, hypercholesteremic animals registered significant decreases in total lipids (-40.54%; -50.69%), cholesterol (-41.58%; -53.01%) and triglycerides (-31.25%; - 44.85%) in plasma. On the other hand, significant increases in plasma HDL-cholesterol levels (+15.10%; +17.71%), HMG-CoA reductase activity (+19.51%; +26.02%) and bile acid content (+24.64%; +30.52%) of liver were noted in these animals. A similar trend was also noted in bile acid (+22.43%;+28.52%), cholesterol (+14.21%; +17.68%) and neutral sterol (+12.40%; +18.85%) excretion in the hypercholesteremic animals with WS administration. Further, a significant decrease in lipid-peroxidation (-35.29%; -36.52%) occurred in WS administered hypercholesteremic animals when compared to their normal counterparts. However, it appeared that WS root powder is also effective in normal subjects for decreasing lipid profiles.

Source: Visavadiya NP, Narasimhacharya AV. “Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats.” Phytomedicine. (2007);14(2-3):136-42.

Withania somnifera Root Extract Enhances Telomerase Activity in the Human HeLa Cell Line


Aging is a decelerating unidirectional process of life. Shortening of telomeric DNA, the (TTAGGG)n hexanucleotide repeats, which form the caps at the chromosome ends, is implicated to determine the aging process, and more importantly the healthy lifespan itself. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein having reverse transcriptase activity, arrests telomere loss through addition of the TTAGGG repeats de novo, to the ends of the chromosome. The telomere/telomerase maintenance is an inevitable necessity to delay aging and for a healthy lifespan. Here, we report the potential of full-spectrum, high concentration Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), an Ayurvedic medicinal herb, root extract to increase telomerase activity. HeLa cells, when treated with various concentrations of Ashwagandha root extract, showed an increase in telomerase activity measured with the established Telomerase Rapid Amplification Protocol (TRAP) assay. Ashwagandha root extract increased telomerase activity with highest enhancement of ~45% at 10 - 50 μg concentration. Thus, Ashwagandha root extract has the anti-aging inducing potential.

Source: Raguraman, V. and Subramaniam, J. “Withania somnifera Root Extract Enhances Telomerase Activity in the Human HeLa Cell Line.” Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology (2016), 7, 199-204.

A randomized, double blind placebo controlled study of efficacy and tolerability of Withaina somnifera extracts in knee joint pain


Background: Root extracts of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) are known to possess analgesic, anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects. An aqueous extract of roots plus leaves of this plant has shown to yield higher percentages of withanolide glycosides and, accordingly, may possess better analgesic, anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects than root alone extracts.

Objectives: To evaluate efficacy and tolerability of a standardized aqueous extract of roots plus leaves of W. somnifera in patients with knee joint pain and discomfort.

Material and methods: Sixty patients with knee joint pain and discomfort were randomized in a double-blind manner to W. somnifera 250 mg, W. somnifera 125 mg and placebo, all given twice daily. Assessment was done by Modified WOMAC, Knee Swelling Index (KSI), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) at baseline and at the end of 4, 8, 12 weeks. Tolerability was assessed by incidence of adverse effects in treatment groups. Student's ‘t’ test and ANOVA were used to compare mean change from baseline within and between the study groups. A p < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: At the end of 12 weeks, compared to baseline and placebo, significant reductions were observed in mean mWOMAC and KSI in W. somnifera 250 mg (p < 0.001), W. somnifera 125 mg (p < 0.05) groups. VAS scores for pain, stiffness and disability were significantly reduced in W. somnifera 250 mg (p < 0.001), W. somnifera 125 mg (p < 0.01) groups. W. somnifera 250 mg group showed earliest efficacy (at 4 weeks). All treatments were well tolerated.

Conclusions: Both the doses of an aqueous extract of W. somnifera produced significant reduction in outcome variables, with the 250 mg group showing significantly better response. In addition, the therapeutic response appears to be dose-dependent and free of any significant GI disturbances.

Source: Ramakanth, G. S., Uday Kumar, C., Kishan, P. V., & Usharani, P. “A randomized, double blind placebo controlled study of efficacy and tolerability of Withaina somnifera extracts in knee joint pain.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine (2016), 7(3), 151–157.