What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Peppermint relieves irritable bowel disorder

Peppermint may help in relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects up to a fifth of the population.

For the first time, the researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Nerve-Gut Research Lab have explained how peppermint activates an ‘anti-pain’ channel in the colon, soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract.

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder, causing abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation.

While naturopaths have commonly prescribed peppermint for many years, there has been no clinical evidence until now to demonstrate why it is so effective in relieving pain.

“Our research shows that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres, particularly those activated by mustard and chilli. This is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),” said Stuart Brierley.

Thirdhand smoke dangerous to unborn babies’ lungs

Prenatal exposure to toxic components of a newly recognised category of tobacco smoke-known as ‘thirdhand smoke’ — can have as serious or an even more negative impact on an infants’ lung development as postnatal or childhood exposure to smoke, according to a study by researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Thirdhand smoke is the newly formed toxins from tobacco smoke that remain on furniture, in cars, on clothing and on other surfaces-long after smokers have finished their cigarettes.

“Thirdhand smoke is a stealth toxin because it lingers on the surfaces in the homes, hotel rooms, casinos and cars used by smokers where children, the elderly and other vulnerable people may be exposed to the toxicants without realizing the dangers,” said Virender Rehan, a principal investigator at LA BioMed and corresponding author of the study.

Virus that piggybacks on AIDS virus to beat disease

Biochemists from UC San Diego and UCLA have engineered virus-like particles that could slow the spread of HIV. The particle piggybacks on the AIDS virus as it moves between individuals and then competes with it once they’re both inside a cell.

Leor Weinberger and his colleagues found that these therapeutic interfering particles (TIPS) could reduce the number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV to one-thirtieth of the current level in about 30 years. With about 33.3 million people infected worldwide in 2009, this new technique’s potential is tremendous.

TIPS are made from harmless fragments of HIV, omitting some key pieces of genetic information like how to self-replicate.