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Life Extension Magazine February 2013

Glucose and Cancer, Reishi, Tocopherol, and Hawthorn


Composition and health effects of phenolic compounds in hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) of different origins.

Epicatechin, aglycons and glycosides of B-type oligomeric procyanidins and flavonols, phenolic acids and C-glycosyl flavones are the major groups of phenolic compounds in hawthorn (Crataegus spp). The total content of phenolic compounds is higher in the leaves and flowers than in the fruits. Procyanidins dominate in the fruits, whereas flavonol glycosides and C-glycosyl flavones are most abundant in the leaves. Genotype and developmental/ripening stage have strong impacts. Procyanidin glycosides and C-glycosyl flavones may be chemotaxonomic markers differentiating species and varieties of hawthorn. Future research shall improve the separation, identification and quantification of procyanidins with degree of polymerisation (DP) ≥ 6, procyanidin glycosides, C-glycosyl flavones and some flavonol glycosides. In vitro and animal studies have shown cardioprotective, hypolipidaemic, hypotensive, antioxidant, radical-scavenging and anti-inflammatory potentials of hawthorn extracts, suggesting different phenolic compounds as the major bioactive components. However, the varying and insufficiently defined composition of the extracts investigated, as a result of different raw materials and extraction methods, makes comparison of the studies very difficult. Clinical evidence indicates that some hawthorn extracts may increase the exercise tolerance of patients with congestive heart failure. More clinical studies are needed to establish the effects of hawthorn, especially in healthy humans.

J Sci Food Agric.2012 Jun;92(8):1578-90

Terminalia arjuna in cardiovascular diseases: making the transition from traditional to modern medicine in India.

The stem bark of Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) is used by the Ayurvedic physicians in India for the treatment of various cardiovascular diseases, collectively referred to as hritroga. It has been extensively studied in animal models to demonstrate cardioprotective properties, ranging from positive inotropic- , hypolipdemic-, coronary vasodilatory- and antioxidant effects to induction of stress protein in heart. Various bioactive compounds, like triterpinoids, tannins, flavonoids and minerals have been isolated from the stem bark. A number of clinical studies have also reported its beneficial effects in patients of chronic stable angina, endothelial dysfunction, heart failure and even ischemic mitral regurgitation. However, there are some identified lacunae, like standardisation of the 'drug', toxicity studies along with pharmacological interactions with other drugs and large multicentre randomized clinical trials, before its use by modern medicine is acceptable.

Curr Pharm Biotechnol.2010 Dec;11(8):855-60

The aqueous extract, not organic extracts, of Terminalia arjuna bark exerts cardiotonic effect on adult ventricular myocytes.

The bark of Terminalia arjuna (TA) has been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine as cardiotonics for treatment of cardiac disorders. It became recently available as over-the-counter supplements marketed for maintaining a healthy heart. However, the cellular mechanism of its cardiotonic effect remains undefined. The present study was designed to investigate the physicochemical property and inotropic effect of the aqueous extract of TA bark (TA(AqE)) on adult rat ventricular myocytes in comparison with extracts prepared sequentially with organic solvents (organic extracts). The kinetics of myocyte contraction and caffeine-induced contraction were analyzed to assess the effect of TA(AqE) on sarcoplasmic reticular (SR) function. The inotropic effect of TA(AqE) was also compared with that of known cardiotonics, isoproterenol (ISO) and ouabain (Ouab). We found that TA(AqE) decoctions exerted positive inotropy, accelerated myocyte relaxation and increased caffeine-induced contraction concentration-dependently. In contrast, TA organic extracts caused interruption of excitability and arrhythmias without consistent inotropic action. In conclusion, TA(AqE)-induced cardiotonic action via enhancing SR function, a unique action minimizing the occurrence of arrhythmias, makes TA(AqE) a promising and relatively safe cardiotonic beneficial to the healthy heart and the treatment for chronic heart disease. The cardiotonic effect of TA(AqE) is consistent with the therapeutic property of TA bark used in ayurvedic medicine. The method of administration and/or selective omission of hydrophobic components from bark powder could be crucial to the efficacy and safety of TA bark in cardiac therapy and uses as over-the-counter supplements.

Phytomedicine.2011 Feb 15;18(4):259-65

Crataegus oxycantha extract attenuates apoptotic incidence in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury by regulating Akt and HIF-1 signaling pathways.

The objective of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy and mechanism of Crataegus oxycantha (COC) extract in preventing ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury in an in vivo rat model of acute myocardial infarction induced by a 30-minute regional ischemia followed by 72 hours of reperfusion. The COC extract [100 mg/(kg body weight)] was administered 12 hours after the surgical procedure and then at 24-hour intervals for 3 days. Animals treated with COC extract showed a significant decrease in creatine kinase activity and infarct size. At the molecular level, COC administration resulted in a significant attenuation of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10) and upregulation of phospho-Akt and c-Raf levels in the heart. As a consequence, cleaved caspase-9 and cleaved caspase-7 levels were significantly downregulated, indicating negative regulation of apoptosis by COC extract. In part with the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling pathway, COC extract administration significantly upregulated the prolyl hydroxylase-2 level. In contrast, other proapoptotic proteins such as nuclear factor-κB, cytochrome c, apoptosis-inducing factor, and cleaved poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase levels were significantly downregulated in the COC-treated group when compared with the untreated control group. The results suggested that COC extract attenuated apoptotic incidence in the experimental myocardial ischemia-reperfusion model by regulating Akt and HIF-1 signaling pathways.

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol.2010 Nov;56(5):526-31

Cardioprotective properties of Crataegus oxycantha extract against ischemia-reperfusion injury.

The aim of the study was to investigate the cardioprotective effect and mechanism of Crataegus oxycantha (COC) extract, a well-known natural antioxidant-based cardiotonic, against ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Electron paramagnetic resonance studies showed that COC extract was capable of scavenging superoxide, hydroxyl, and peroxyl radicals, in vitro. The cardioprotective efficacy of the extract was studied in a crystalloid perfused heart model of I/R injury. Hearts were subjected to 30min of global ischemia followed by 45min of reperfusion. During reperfusion, COC extract was infused at a dose rate of 1mg/ml/min for 10min. Hearts treated with COC extract showed a significant recovery in cardiac contractile function, reduction in infarct size, and decrease in creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase activities. The expressions of xanthine oxidase and NADPH oxidase were significantly reduced in the treated group. A significant upregulation of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Hsp70 with simultaneous downregulation of the pro-apoptotic proteins cytochrome c and cleaved caspase-3 was observed. The molecular signaling cascade including phospho-Akt (ser-473) and HIF-1alpha that lead to the activation or suppression of apoptotic pathway also showed a significant protective role in the treatment group. No significant change in phospho-p38 levels was observed. The results suggested that the COC extract may reduce the oxidative stress in the reperfused myocardium, and play a significant role in the inhibition of apoptotic pathways leading to cardioprotection.

Phytomedicine. 2010 Aug;17(10):744-52

Crataegus laevigata decreases neutrophil elastase and has hypolipidemic effect: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Crataegus laevigata is a medicinal plant most commonly used for the treatment of heart failure and psychosomatic disorders. Based on previous experimental findings, this double-blind placebo-controlled study was aimed at finding beneficial effects of C. laevigata on biomarkers of coronary heart disease (CHD). The study included 49 diabetic subjects with chronic CHD who were randomly assigned to the treatment for 6 months with either a micronized flower and leaf preparation of C. laevigata (400 mg three times a day) or a matching placebo. Blood cell count, lipid profile, C-reactive protein, neutrophil elastase (NE) and malondialdehyde were analyzed in plasma at baseline, at one month and six months. The main results were that NE decreased in the C. laevigata group compared to the placebo group. In the C. laevigata group, baseline figures (median and interquartile range) were 35.8 (4.5) and in the placebo group 31 (5.9). At the end of the study, values were 33.2 (4.7) ng/ml and 36.7 (2.2) ng/ml, respectively; p<0.0001. C. laevigata, added to statins, decreased LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) (mean±SD) from 105±28.5 mg/dl at baseline to 92.7±25.1 mg/dl at 6 months (p=0.03), and non-HDL cholesterol from 131±37.5 mg/dl to 119.6±33 mg/dl (p<0.001). Differences between groups did not reach statistical significance at 6 months. No significant changes were observed in the rest of parameters. In conclusion, C. laevigata decreased NE and showed a trend to lower LDL-C compared to placebo as add-on-treatment for diabetic subjects with chronic CHD.

Phytomedicine.2011 Jun 15;18(8-9):769-75

Antioxidant and hypocholesterolaemic effects of Terminalia arjuna tree-bark powder: a randomised placebo-controlled trial.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the antioxidant and hypocholesterolaemic effects of Terminalia arjuna tree bark (a popular cardiotonic substance in Indian pharmacopoeia) and to compare it with a known antioxidant, vitamin E, we performed a randomized controlled trial. METHODS: One hundred and five successive patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) presenting to our centre were recruited and using a Latin-square design divided into 3 groups of 35 each. The groups were matched for age, lifestyle and dietary variables, clinical diagnosis and drug treatment status. None of the patients was on lipid-lowering drugs. Supplemental vitamins were stopped for one month before study began and American Heart Association Step II dietary advice was given to all. At baseline, total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol and lipid peroxide estimated as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) were determined. Group I received placebo capsules; Group II vitamin E capsules 400 units/day; and Group III received finely pulverized T. arjuna tree bark-powder (500 mg) in capsules daily. Lipids and lipid peroxide levels were determined at 30 days follow-up. RESULTS: Response rate in various groups varied from 86% to 91%. No significant changes in total, HDL, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels were seen in Groups I and II (paired t-test p > 0.05). In Group III there was a significant decrease in total cholesterol (-9.7 +/- 12.7%), and LDL cholesterol (-15.8 +/- 25.6%) (paired t-test p < 0.01). Lipid peroxide levels decreased significantly in both the treatment groups (p < 0.01). This decrease was more in vitamin E group (-36.4 +/- 17.7%) as compared to the T. arjuna group (-29.3 +/- 18.9%). CONCLUSIONS: Terminalia arjuna tree bark powder has significant antioxidant action that is comparable to vitamin E. In addition, it also has a significant hypocholesterolaemic effect.

J Assoc Physicians India. 2001 Feb;49:231-5

Baseline severity but not gender modulates quantified Crataegus extract effects in early heart failure--a pooled analysis of clinical trials.

OBJECTIVE: The efficacy of quantified Crataegus extract in chronic heart failure (CHF) has been assessed in numerous clinical studies. The present pooled analysis evaluates the impact of baseline severity and gender on objective and patient-reported endpoints and associations between both types of outcomes in patients with early CHF. METHODS: Available data from 687 individual patients treated with quantified Crataegus extract or placebo in ten studies were pooled. Treatment effects on physiologic outcome parameters and on symptoms were analysed for their association with baseline severity and gender. Changes in symptom scores were investigated with respect to their relation to physiologic outcome parameters. Results were compared with observations in a 3-year cohort study. RESULTS: Physiologic outcome parameters maximal workload (MWL), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and pressure-heart rate product increase (PHRPI) at 50 W ergometric exercise improved more in active treatment than in placebo patients. Magnitude of improvement was independent from baseline for LVEF but increased for MWL and PHRPI with baseline severity. Improvement of typical symptoms like reduced exercise tolerance, exertional dyspnea, weakness, fatigue, and palpitations improved more with active treatment and in patients with more severe symptoms. A weak association between improvements in MWL, PRHP, and symptoms could be demonstrated. Gender differences in treatment effects could be explained by baseline differences. Results of the pooled analysis are in agreement with observations in the cohort study. CONCLUSIONS: Crataegus extract treatment effects on physiologic outcomes and typical symptoms were modulated by baseline severity. Taking baseline differences into account, benefits were comparable in male and female patients with impaired exercise-tolerance in early chronic heart-failure.

Phytomedicine. 2011 Nov 15;18(14):1214-9