U.S. spending millions to see if herbs truly work

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics
People have been using herbal supplements for centuries to cure all manner of ills and improve their health. But for all the folk wisdom promoting the use of such plants as St. John's wort and black cohosh, much about their effect on human health remains unknown. Therefore, I'm delighted that the federal government is spending millions of dollars to support research dedicated to separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to herbal supplements. Here are the details from USA Today: "A lot of these products are widely used by the consumer, and we don't have evidence one way or the other whether they are safe and effective," said Marguerite Klein, director of the Botanical Research Centers Program at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "We have a long way…
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FDA targets manufacturers of tainted supplements

Alternative Medicine
Long time readers of this blog, and those who've read my book, Alternative Medicine: The claims, the options, the evidence, how to choose wisely, are aware of my warnings to U.S. purchasers of natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) that these products are virtually unregulated. Scores of these medications have been shown to be contaminated or mislabeled, making the purchasing of safe and effective product very difficult. (You can purchase a signed copy of the book here.) Now, comes some great news from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The AP reports, "The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on manufacturers of certain weight loss, body building, and sexual enhancement supplements that contain potentially dangerous ingredients." The FDA "said Wednesday that some manufacturers are deceptively labeling products to hide that they contain…
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Girls who walk/bike to school do better in tests

Children's Health, Parenting
In my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I explain that schools that have cut back on recess and physical education have seen the kids' test scores fall. Likewise, those schools that have kept or even increased exercise, especially among boys, find that the kids learn better and not only improve grades on their report cards but have improved scores on standardized tests. Now a new study of teens living in Spanish cities is showing that girls who walk or bike to school instead of getting a ride perform better in tests of verbal and math skills. And the longer the commute, the higher the test scores, regardless of how much exercise girls got outside of school. Still, it's unclear whether the commute itself matters,…
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