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Bernhard Schlink

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Good news today for us fans of herbal medicine. A Canadian study has found that tonic Ginseng may help protect against and reduce the severity of the common cold. The study was fairly large, but also somewhat short term, and without seeing the real data I can't judge how well I believe the results. But then, it probably won't hurt.

On the other hand, St. John's Wort can be dangerous. It is popularly taken as an herbal antidepressant, and probably works as such to some extent, as it contains a potent monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). The thing is, MAOI's have some nasty side effects, and can produce harmful reactions when taken with foods as diverse as red meat, cheese, and wine. However. Temple University researchers say they have isolated a novel protein from St. John's Wort, called p27SJ, which inhibits expression and replication of HIV-1 genes. (UPDATE: Link found!)

The researchers stress that they have no idea if this protein in present in St. John's Wort supplements sold in stores, or if it even is effective in vivo, but nonetheless this is a fantastically interesting finding.

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