what's the buzz

what's the buzz

How tansy may be a herpes treatment

Scientists from Britain and Spain believe tansy may work as a treatment for herpes. The team’s findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines.

Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, is a flowering plant found across mainland Europe and Asia. From the middle ages onwards the plant, whose folk names include Golden Buttons and Mugwort, has been used as a remedy for various conditions, from fevers to rheumatism. However, it’s supposed medical benefits have always been questioned.

“We currently lack an effective vaccine for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 stands of the disease, which can cause long term infections,” said lead author Francisco Parra, Universidad de Oviedo.

Parra’s team began joint work on the properties of tansy with the research group led by Dr Solomon Habtemariam from the University of Greenwich. Through a mechanistic-based antiherpetic activity study, the teams revealed which constituents of the plant are responsible for antiviral activity.

“Our study revealed that parthenolide is not one of the major anti HSV-1 principles of tansy, as has been suggested. However we found that tansy does contains known antiviral agents including 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (3,5-DCQA) as well as axillarin, which contributes to its antiherpetic effect,” said Parra.

Use of nitrates increases bone strength: study

In a new study, scientists found that use of nitroglycerin ointment among postmenopausal women for two years was associated with a modest increase in bone mineral density and decrease in bone resorption (loss).

Nitroglycerin is used medically as a vasodilator (a drug that causes dilation of blood vessels) to treat heart conditions, such as angina and chronic heart failure.

Sophie A Jamal, of the Women’s College Research Institute and University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues tested the efficacy of once-daily nitroglycerin ointment to increase bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine, femoral (bone in the leg that extends from the hip to the knee) neck and hip.

The placebo-controlled randomised trial was conducted from November 2005 to March 2010 and included 243 postmenopausal women.

The participants were randomised to nitroglycerin ointment or placebo, applied at bedtime to the upper arm for two years.

The researchers found that compared with placebo, women randomised to the nitroglycerin group had significant increases in areal (an area) BMD at the lumbar spine (6.7 per cent), total hip (6.2 per cent), and femoral neck (7.0 per cent) at 24 months.

Brain’s ‘visual reading’ part does not require vision at all

A new study has found that the portion of the brain responsible for visual reading lights up — whether it’s a person with sight who is reading, or a blind person who reads Braille.
“The brain is not a sensory machine, although it often looks like one; it is a task machine,” said Amir Amedi of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“A brain area can fulfill a unique function, in this case reading, regardless of what form the sensory input takes.”

Amedi’s team used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure neural activity in eight people who had been blind since birth while they read Braille. If the brain were organised around processing sensory information, Braille reading would require regions dedicated to processing tactile information but if the brain is task oriented, you’d expect to find the peak of activity across the entire brain in the VWFA, right where it occurs in sighted readers, and that is exactly what the researchers found.