Research Roundup

Older women with vitamin B12 deficiency may be more prone to depression, according to research from the Women’s Health and Aging Study. Of 700 women aged 65 and older, those with a B12 deficiency were more than twice as likely to be severely depressed than women who weren’t deficient. A B12 deficiency may alter brain chemicals or cause a buildup of those involved in mood, say the researchers.
American Journal of Psychiatry, May 2000.
 

Ginseng lowered blood sugar levels in people with diabetes in a small Canadian study. Nineteen volunteers, nine with type 2 diabetes, took three grams of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) or a placebo, either 40 minutes before or at the same time as 25 grams of glucose. All participants received all four treatments. When given prior to the glucose, ginseng significantly lowered blood sugar in everyone. When given at the same time as the glucose, the effect was seen only in those with diabetes. Ginseng may lower blood sugar by slowing digestion, increasing sugar uptake in cells or increasing insulin levels. To avoid unintended hypoglycemia, the researchers caution those with diabetes to take ginseng with meals.

Archives of Internal Medicine, April 10, 2000.
 

An old Chinese herbal remedy may benefit men with prostate cancer, according to preliminary research. Thirty-three men with prostate cancer, but not on conventional hormone therapy, took nine capsules a day of PC-SPES, a formula that contains eight herbs. After 50 weeks, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels dropped by more than 80% in all patients and became undetectable in 64%, indicating possible shrinkage of tumors. The herbal formula may work via its estrogenic activity. Consult your physician.

Presented at the 36th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, New Orleans, May 2000.
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