A new curcumin and myeloma study

A newly published Chinese study¬†shows that curcumin stops the proliferation of myeloma cells and even kills them by inhibiting EZH2 (I actually wrote quite a lot about this pesky protein in some 2010 posts…to find them, simply do a search of my blog for “EZH2”) and SUZ12.

These are two Polycomb repressor genes that become hyperactive in myeloma, which is not a good thing, as you can imagine. In my previous posts, in fact, I called EHZ2 a “Polyhooligan.” ūüôā

At any rate, the important thing to remember is that when EHZ2 is inhibited, myeloma cells stop proliferating.¬†Here’s the link to the abstract: goo.gl/YI5P2b

This new study gives us another reason to keep taking our curcumin (NOT in an injected form, though, yikessss!!!!!), while we wait for more studies to be published on this topic…

Good stuff!

Woman dies after turmeric injection

I could hardly believe the article I just finished reading (incidentally, many thanks to Dr. Heger for posting this link on Facebook, and for commenting on it): goo.gl/cf8G0A

In short, a woman from San Diego had a heart attack and died after a “naturopath” gave her¬†a turmeric injection to treat her eczema.

WHY, WHY, WHY would you let anyone inject you with turmeric (or curcumin, for that matter)?

WHY???

As Dr. Heger pointed out, would you let someone give you an injection of mashed carrots? No, of course not. Same sort of thing.

If anyone¬†offers to treat you with weird-sounding treatments, run away as fast as you can. And then report them so that¬†they won’t harm others.

I hope this “naturopath” gets prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law…gee wiz.

What an awful story…

Bryce Canyon, made in Tuscany

_1190511Yes, Bryce Canyon. Seriously. Something you’d never expect in my beautiful Tuscany. And yet, this “canyon” is¬†practically¬†in our backyard, only a¬†45 minute drive from where we live in Florence. But let’s start from the beginning.

We spent Saturday with a couple of friends of ours (the same ones with whom we went to Siena a few weekends ago, and who spent New Year’s Eve with us in Austria…poooh, I still have to publish that post, by the way, argh!).

_1190516We had planned on visiting¬†Loro Ciuffenna, a very pretty little Medieval town, with steep, narrow streets, located in the province of Arezzo. The town is cut in half by the Ciuffenna, which, right now, is a very noisy, fast-flowing stream but soon, in the summer months, will be nothing more than a trickle, apparently. The Ciuffenna’s raging waters drive its ancient chestnut flour mill (see photo no. 1), which is located just¬†below the main bridge (the bridge was built after the Germans had blown¬†up the original bridge while¬†retreating in WWII, we were told by one of the locals).

Anyway, this, by the way, is the oldest functioning water mill in Tuscany, probably built around 1100, right on a cliff along the stream._1190545 The mill has a horizontal wheel and vertical shaft, which I thought was unusual. I mean, I’ve seen lots of vertical wheels, but never a horizontal one.¬†If you click on the photo (thus enlarging it), you might be able to make out the vertical shaft just inside the left arch of the mill…I know, I should have taken a better photo of it, but Stefano told me about it only after we’d left the town. Bother.¬†I’m not that good on noticing details, sometimes…

Loro Ciuffenna also has an asymmetrical Roman bridge that was left intact by the Germans because it was too narrow for tanks to be able to cross it.¬†Unfortunately, I have terrible photos of the Roman bridge, too! Oh well. We’re planning to go back there, anyway.

_1190610After walking around Loro Ciuffenna and then visiting the interesting, Romanesque church of San Pietro a Gropina, located in a very pretty and very peaceful setting, we had lunch in a lovely little restaurant…mmmh, simply delicious food (a very good reason to go back!!!), and then set off for “Le Balze,” which literally means “rocky crags.”

We would have missed Le Balze entirely if, by pure chance, I had not caught a glimpse of them in an article I’d read about Loro Ciuffenna early that morning, before we left Florence. And that would have been such a shame…

_1190600Le Balze were formed by the sediments of a prehistoric lake that, two million years ago, was 20 kilometers long. When the lake started disappearing, throughout the millennia, it left these weird-looking rock formations of clay and sand that can be as much as 100 meters high.

Curious fact: if you look closely at the background of Leonardo’s “Gioconda,” you will be able to see these rock formations. No kidding. yes, Le Balze are right there, in the “Gioconda.”

_1190588Le Balze¬†have been compared to Bryce Canyon, in Utah. We want¬†to go back and explore the area more carefully, because on Saturday we managed to see only two of these Balze, but there are actually quite a number of them, scattered all over the area around Loro Ciuffenna and Castelfranco di Sopra. Beautiful colors, too, don’t you think?

We ended our Balze-filled day with a quick dinner at our friends’ home…and, of course, furiously playing cards…A lovely Saturday! ūüôā

Note: you can click on the photos to enlarge them…

A promising new treatment for deadly sepsis

I have to thank my niece for leading me to this NPR article, which turned out to be a very interesting read: https://goo.gl/qMRjtM sepsis

Incidentally, this article reminded me of a related something or other that I’d read a while ago, and so I had a quick look at PubMed where I found are a number of studies, mainly conducted on rats, suggesting that curcumin might be an effective treatment for sepsis infections. But of course there are no HUMAN clinical trials to this regard…

As for my own, limited, anecdotal experience, I have treated skin infections and weird rashes on my arms (about which I have written here on the blog) with turmeric and/or curcumin, with rather unexpected (amazing!) results. I have, thank goodness, never had a sepsis sort of infection, but if I ever do, I will certainly use curcumin for it.

Anyway, my point today is that it’s good to have open-minded doctors who think outside the box…Good stuff!

P.S. ¬†If you want to read the “Danger Symptoms” (above), just click on the photo.

“I‚Äôm 90-years-old, I‚Äôm hitting the road.”

norma 91 years oldA friend of ours posted this link on Facebook today: goo.gl/P2jGO0¬†The link will take you to the¬†inspiring story of a 91-year-old woman from Michigan who was¬†diagnosed with uterine cancer and¬†decided to spend her last months driving around the U.S.A. with her dog and family instead of undergoing the conventional treatments that “were unlikely to treat the illness” anyway.

She died in October 2016, after completing her long road trip.

Do you think she did the right thing?

I certainly think so. Remember, she was 90 years old at the time of diagnosis…Even her doctor supported her…

Punica granatum and myeloma

PubMed is such a fabulous treasure trove. A few days ago, I came upon a new, promising study on the devastating effects that extracts of the non-edible parts of a plant called Punica granatum had on U266 myeloma cells. The extracts not only stopped the myeloma cells from proliferating, but also took a hatchet to ’em, finishing them off for good: goo.gl/dYlXuK

Yes indeedie…Using more technical¬†words, the extracts¬†triggered apoptosis in this myeloma cell line…

Okay, and now it’s time for me to fess up…the joke’s on me! I mean, even though I studied Latin for many years, up to, and including, my last year in Italian high school, I didn’t recognize that Punica granatum meant pomegranate! Silly me!

And to think I‚Äôve actually written FOUR¬†medical-related posts on pomegranates (just search my blog for ‚Äúpomegranate,‚ÄĚ using the handy ‚ÄúSearch‚ÄĚ box on the upper right). Feeling a bit silly, now. Oh well, life goes on.¬† ūüė鬆

Anyway…Unfortunately, the anti-myeloma activity of this shrub/tree apparently isn‚Äôt in the fruit, but, as mentioned above, in extracts that came mainly from¬†its stems and leaves, So the¬†photo I took of two¬†lovely pomegranates that we ate a few months ago is just for show, just to give some color to my post…
IMG_6596

The study concludes the following: ‚ÄúThe data suggest that the extracts can be envisaged in cancer chemoprevention and call for further exploration into the potential application of these plant parts.‚ÄĚ

Indeed!

The full study is NOT available for free online, so I haven‚Äôt gotten my hands on it‚Ķnot yet, anyway. I‚Äôd love it if someone could send it to me…hint hint! Yes, that would be fantastic indeed…I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!¬† ūüôā¬†

More on cardamonin and myeloma

After months of being too busy with other stuff, such as…life!, to do much research, I have been going through PubMed again, yaaaay, and this is one of the studies, published in 2015, that really caught my attention: goo.gl/YgMY8OAlpinia_katsumadai_SQ_405_grande

You can actually read the full study online for free, at this link: goo.gl/muftiW

As my blog title suggests, it’s¬†about cardamonin, about which I actually wrote a brief post
in February of 2011 (see http://margaret.healthblogs.org/other-alternative-treatments/cardamonin/). That post was based on a 2010 study, showing, and I quote, that “Cardamonin¬†affects both the STAT3 and NF-kappaB pathways, which, as we know,¬†are crucial for myeloma cell survival and proliferation. It also enhances the anti-MM activity of some¬†conventional drugs used in the treatment of multiple myeloma: vincristine,¬†doxorubicin,¬†dexamethasone, bortezomib and thalidomide..[…] it also has a strong effect¬†against¬†COX2, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, survivin, VEGF (angiogenesis).” Good stuff!

Cardamonin is extracted from a plant of the ginger family, called Alpinia katsumadai (see photo), which¬†is widely used in Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation, among other things. It also has antibacterial and antiviral effects…

But, as far as we are concerned, the results of the 2015 study confirm those of the 2010 study, that is: cardamonin strongly inhibits myeloma cell activity and proliferation, and, at higher doses, kills the darn cells.

Music to my ears…

Another study that I hadn’t seen, published in 2013, tells us that cardamonin also blocks RANKL, thus suppressing osteoclastogenesis = the process of bone destruction: goo.gl/cFh3QI.

This is also a bit of excellent news for us.

Well, the news would be even more excellent if it were super easy to find cardamonin. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as going to the health food store and buying some cardamom seeds to add to our food. There are, apparently, seven other Zingiberaceous species, and the cardamom seeds found in stores don’t come from¬†Alpinia katsumadai. For example, in my health food store I found cardamom seeds from Elettaria cardamomum, that is, a different plant altogether. Bummer, eh?

So the search is on! If anyone knows of a reliable, safe source for this stuff, please let me know. But, as always, please be careful and do your research before ingesting anything!

More research needed, but hey, this looks extremely promising…

PLEASE NOTE (note added on March 19): There are different Zingiberaceous species, as I mentioned above. The seeds from Elettaria cardamomum are NOT the same as those from Alpinia katsumadai. The seeds look very similar, but they come from two different plants…Therefore, thanks for sending me the links to different websites that sell Elettaria cardamomum seeds, but it would be pointless and misleading for me to post¬†them.¬†

Climbing steps with smoldering myeloma

_MG_6707Yesterday Stefano and I drove to Siena with a couple of our best friends and their dog. Ah, what a glorious day! Sunny but not too sunny, cool but not too cool. In short, perfect weather.

When we first arrived, we went to have an espresso at Nannini (you simply have to do that…it’s practically the law in Siena…just kidding! ūüôā ), then ambled down to Piazza del Campo, Siena’s most famous, shell-shaped square…certainly one of the loveliest squares¬†in Italy.

We’ve been to Siena before, many times, and I’ve posted photos of these day trips, but yesterday we had a different perspective, which means that¬†I have some new photos to show you.

We decided¬†in fact to climb to the top of the famous¬†Torre del Mangia, the tall bell tower in Piazza del Campo (see photo no. 1: it’s on the left). The Torre del Mangia was built in the 14th century.

_MG_6682It’s 88 meters high (289 feet), and it’s also the third¬†highest medieval tower in Italy.

I forgot to count the steps as we went up, up and up and up very narrow marble steps, steep ones at times…But I looked online and found¬†that there are a total of 400 step. Compare that to the 414 steps of the bell tower in Florence, which you might be more familiar with. So, quite high.

Parts of the staircase were extremely narrow, making it difficult to let people by, either coming down or going up. Ah yes, it was quite a squeeze, here and there. But we all (tourists), er, squeezed away in good cheer.

So…400 steps…not bad, eh?¬†_MG_6652

Check out my second photo, which gives a view of the stairwell, looking down almost from the top of the tower. As you can imagine, this climb is not intended for vertigo sufferers. Or for anyone with heart problems.

The view from the top is amazing. 360 degree views of the city and, of course, the surrounding hills of Tuscany.

_MG_6667Incidentally, you can click on the photos to make them bigger. No. 3, e.g., gives you a view of the back of Siena’s Duomo, = Cathedral, and also a nice view of the city’s rooftops. The last photo on the left is a view of the square where you can sort of make out its shell shape.

In sum, we had a lovely lovely day. Bliss.

And hey, I can still climb up to the top of a medieval tower and live to tell the story, puff puff! ūüėČ

An “Essential” piece of nonsense…

As I mentioned in my March 4 2017 post,¬†Dr. Michal Heger, University of Amsterdam, wrote a strong rebuttal to the “Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin” review, which was recently published in the journal “Nature.”

Interestingly, Dr. Heger and I, independently from each other, wrote our rebuttals based mainly on the fact that the review authors hadn‚Äôt looked at (or worse, had ignored) all the PubMed curcumin clinical trial results. If they had only checked out PubMed, which wouldn’t have been all THAT difficult, they would have found evidence negating their theory‚Ķ

But in that case, they couldn’t have written anything so ¬†negative, right?

Bleah.

I left¬†Dr. Heger a comment on his March 4 Facebook post (on this topic, of course), and he replied, although. for some odd reason, I didn’t read his reply until yesterday.¬†Anyway, here is the pertinent part of his reply: “That piece in the JMC deserved a scolding rebuttal, particularly since it was replete with alternative facts and had broad international implications. Our as well as your ‘quarantine’ of the fallout was therefore warranted.”

Alternative facts, indeed. Lately, we seem to be surrounded by lots of “alternative facts”……

At this point,¬†I might as well announce that,¬†based on the fact that Dr. Heger and I had the same reactions to this review, which was clearly biased and incomplete (on purpose, it seems), I have decided not to waste any more of my time on it. I¬†am putting it¬†aside, at least for now, and focusing instead on other, more important things‚Ķsuch as feeding and watching the birds hopping around the daisies in full bloom now in my backyard, preparing exams for my students, and most of all, as of a few days ago (see my polydatin post), getting into more research…I have already found some interesting stuff to write about…I just need to get to work…

PubMed, darling, here I come!

Margaret’s back!¬† ūüėé

New study: polydatin blasts myeloma cells to smithereens

First, what is polydatin? Have you ever heard of it?¬†I hadn’t…before this morning. Well, in short, it’s extracted from Japanese knotweed,¬†a large, herbaceous perennial plant of the knotweed and buckwheat family Polygonaceae. japanese_knotweed-2The description sounds quite innocuous, but in fact this plant is¬†far from innocuous. It’s a terribly invasive, almost impossible-to-get-rid-of WEED that can take over huge expanses of land if unchecked, and its rhizomes can even¬†cause extensive damage to building foundations, walls, and whatnot. Okay, well,¬†there go my first thoughts of planting some in the back yard. Oooops, not happening!!!

But forget the plant. What should interest us is Its extract, polydatin, which has been shown to inhibit “the proliferation of leukemia, breast cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancer.”

So the newly-published Chinese study I read this morning on the effects of polydatin and myeloma¬†didn’t just come out of the blue but is backed by a number of¬†scientific¬†studies…In fact, I just found a study on polydatin and laryngeal cancer in PubMed…published just two days ago…

Oh, before I forget, the full polydatin and myeloma study is available for free on PubMed. Just click here: goo.gl/kZex2M

Interesting aside: as we can read in the abstract, in addition to its anti-cancer effects, polydatin has a bunch of other abilities, such as reducing blood lipids (and that is a great bit of info, considering what we know now about cancer cells and lipids, see my March 4 2017 post) and protecting us from strokes. Yes, interesting indeed…

Note: this study tests polydatin on cells, not people. But even so, the results, on the myeloma RPMI 8226 cell line, are quite amazing: the more polydatin was added to the mix, the more these myeloma cells stopped proliferating. The MM cells eventually died. DIED.

Super duper.

Now, the only thing that slightly concerned me was in the Discussion part, where the researchers state that polydatin was found to be less toxic to normal cells. Does that mean it was somewhat toxic to normal cells, though less so, compared to cancer cells? I couldn’t find an answer…can anyone else find it?

Reading on, we see that polydatin (or PD, for short), “functioned as a tumor suppressor in MM cells.¬† The proliferation of MM cells decreased and apoptosis increased progressively along with the increasing concentrations of PD.” Super duper…again.

The study concludes that “PD effectively suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis and autophagy in MM cells through mTOR/p70s6k signaling pathway in vitro, which indicates that PD could be used as a potential anticancer drug for MM treatment. However, further research is needed to explore the anticancer effect of PD in vivo.”

Just one last comment on mTOR, that is, polydatin’s target. And here I’m taking from my own research: mTOR is a really nasty pathway involved with myeloma disease progression. When mTOR is activated, MM cell lines resist being killed. Obviously, not good at all. And, in fact, if you do a search of PubMed, mTOR inhibitors are being developed all over the place to treat myeloma.

Okay, so more studies (in vivo ones, especially) are needed, blablabla. But what I find tremendously significant is that this new study proves that the interest in finding new plant extracts that might possibly be useful in the treatment of myeloma and other cancers is live and well.

And that can only be a very GOOD thing…!!!