Medical News Today: Cumin: Six health benefits

Cumin is a spice that comes from the Cuminum cyminum plant. It is native to Asia, Africa, and Europe, but it is widely used in cooking throughout the world. It is the second most popular spice after black pepper.

Cumin is usually purchased in the form of whole dried seeds or as ground powder. It is a typical ingredient in many spice blends, such as curry powder. Cumin is a staple spice in many cuisines, especially Mexican, Indian, African, and Asian.

Aside from cooking, cumin has also been used medicinally in many parts of the world for some years.

In some Southeast Asian countries, it is used to help with digestion, coughs, pain, and liver health. In Iran, people use cumin to treat seizures, while people in Tunisia use it to help fight infections and lower blood pressure.

Interest in cumin has been growing as newer research supports some of its acclaimed health benefits. Read on to learn more about the potential health benefits and risks associated with cumin, as well as how to add cumin to your diet.

Six possible health benefits

1. Weight loss

woman standing on scales
Recent studies indicate cumin may be effective in lowering cholesterol and in weight loss.

Cumin may be helpful for people trying to lose weight. A study involving overweight adults compared the effects of cumin with a weight-loss medication and a placebo on weight.

After 8 weeks, the researchers found that the cumin and weight-loss medication groups both lost significant amounts of weight. People in the cumin group also experienced a decrease in their insulin levels.

Another study found that overweight and obese women who consumed 3 grams (g) of cumin powder in yogurt daily for 3 months had significant decreases in body weight, waist size, and body fat.

2. Cholesterol

The previously mentioned study in overweight and obese women also found that consuming 3 g of cumin powder per day resulted in lower total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

The women who consumed the cumin powder also had higher HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.

3. Diabetes

A study in adults with type 2 diabetes looked at the effects of cumin essential oil on blood sugar. Study participants received either 100 milligrams (mg) of cumin oil per day, 50 mg of cumin oil per day, or a placebo.

After 8 weeks, both cumin-oil groups had significantly lower blood sugar, insulin, and hemoglobin A1c levels.

The cumin-oil groups also saw improvements in the signs of insulin resistance and inflammation. Other studies in humans have shown mixed results with cumin and blood sugar levels.

4. Irritable bowel syndrome

A small pilot study looked at the effect of consuming cumin essential-oil drops on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

After 4 weeks, study participants noted improvements in many symptoms, such as stomach pain and bloating.

At the end of the study, those with IBS who had mainly experienced constipation as a symptom had more frequent bowel movements. Those who had mainly experienced diarrhea as a symptom had fewer bowel movements.

5. Stress

Cumin may play a role in helping the body handle stress. A study in rats looked at the effect of cumin extract on signs of stress.

When the animals received cumin extract before a stressful activity, their bodies had significantly less of a stress response than when they did not receive the treatment.

Cumin may help fight the effects of stress by working as an antioxidant. The same researchers found that cumin was a more effective antioxidant than vitamin C in the rats they studied.

6. Memory loss

The same study in rats also looked at the impact of cumin extract on memory. The study found that the animals that had received cumin extract had better and faster recall.

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Nutrition facts

According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds contains:

  • 8 kilocalories

  • 0.37 g of protein

  • 0.47 g of fat

  • 0.93 g of carbohydrate

The same amount of cumin seeds also provides 20 mg of calcium, 1.39 mg of iron, and 8 mg of magnesium.

Additionally, cumin contains antioxidants, which may be responsible for some of its associated health benefits.

Possible risks and side effects

Cumin powder on spoon and cumin seeds spilling from a jar
Further research is required before cumin can be recommended as a supplement.

Consuming foods that are cooked with cumin is likely safe for most people. Some people may have an allergy to cumin, in which case they should avoid it.

More research is needed before supplemental doses of cumin are recommended. In one study, some people experienced nausea, dizziness, and stomach pain after consuming cumin extract.

As with all supplements, people should tell their healthcare provider what they are taking. Many supplements may impact how certain prescription medications work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor supplements for quality or purity. Do your research on different brands.

Research in rats found that products from cumin seeds interacted with a medication and increased blood levels of an antibiotic used to treat TB.

People with diabetes, especially those who take medication for diabetes, should use cumin with caution since it may change their blood sugar levels.

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Ways to incorporate cumin into your diet

Cumin is a common ingredient in many savory ethnic dishes. It adds a warm flavor and works especially well in soups, stews, and curries.

This spice can also be used to season vegetables or meats before roasting.

See below for links to tasty recipes that contain cumin:


Cumin may have the potential for use in addressing a variety of health conditions.

Research has shown that cumin may boost the immune system and help fight certain types of bacterial and fungal infections. Animal studies have also suggested cumin may help prevent some types of cancer.

More research is needed, especially in humans, but cumin seems to have promise in the medical world. The best supplement form and dose is currently unknown.

For now, cumin is likely best enjoyed in food instead of as a supplement.

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Medical News Today: Five home remedies for athlete’s foot

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Medical News Today: Infected eczema: Symptoms, treatment, and prevention

Eczema is a term used to describe a wide variety of conditions that cause red, itchy, and inflamed skin. The most common type of eczema is known as atopic dermatitis.

Eczema is primarily found in infants, and most children outgrow eczema by the time they are about 10 years old. In cases where eczema persists into adulthood, people are typically able to manage their condition with medicated creams.

Sometimes, eczema may become infected. Typically, this happens when a virus or bacteria gets into open blisters or wounds at the site of an eczema rash.

It is important for people with eczema or caregivers of children with eczema to know what causes eczema to become infected, the signs and symptoms, and what treatment options are available.

What causes infected eczema?

Eczema on the neck.
Infectioned eczema may be caused by fungal infections, viruses like herpes, or bacteria.

Eczema infections are caused by a variety of potential viruses, bacteria, or fungi. The following are some of the more common microbes responsible for causing infected eczema:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection)

  • fungal infections, such as ringworm (tinea)

  • herpes simplex virus

Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria found on the skin of nearly all people with eczema. It also lives on the skin of about 20 percent of healthy adults. 

Staphylococcus aureus thrives on weeping or broken skin. In cases of a staph infection, eczema spreads more quickly and makes healing more difficult.

Ringworm is a common source of fungal infection in eczema. Ringworm can be found all over the body and typically appears as isolated patches. It can also occur between the toes, where it is known as athlete’s foot.

Fungal infections are more likely to occur in people with eczema, but they are relatively common in all individuals.

Herpes simplex can also cause infections in people with eczema, so it is a good idea for people with eczema to avoid people with cold sores, where possible.

A secondary infection of the skin caused by the herpes simplex virus is called eczema herpeticum. If it is not correctly diagnosed and treated with antiviral therapy, it can cause serious consequences, even leading to blindness or death.

Most people that have infected eczema will have an open sore in the affected area. The open sores usually develop because a person has been scratching their skin.

Symptoms of an eczema infection

Infected eczema is easy to recognize because the area will usually appear more inflamed.

A person with infected eczema may also experience the following:

  • burning

  • extreme itching

  • fluid drainage

  • blistering

  • white or yellow pus

In more advanced cases, a person may experience more severe symptoms including:

If anyone experiences any of these symptoms at the site of eczema, they should seek medical intervention to treat the infection.

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Senior woman at dermatologist's office, having skin on the back of her hand inspected under a light.
It is recommended that infected eczema is examined by a doctor as soon as possible, so that any complications can be effectively prevented.

Infected eczema is a complication of eczema, but it can produce its own problems and issues.

Some common complications of infected eczema may include:

  • prolonged eczema flare – the infection needs to be treated before the eczema will heal

  • increased itchiness and blisters

  • growth problems in children using steroids

  • eventual resistance to topical steroids with prolonged use

  • scarring

Infected eczema can also lead to more dangerous complications. For example, if left untreated, a serious staph infection may cause a blood infection known as sepsis.

In general, the younger the person is, the more likely they are to develop complications from an infection. Infants and young children are at particular risk of developing blood or bacterial infections, so a doctor should examine them as soon as possible.

When to see a doctor

If a child or infant develops a rash, it is a good idea to contact a doctor to rule out more serious infections.

If a person has chronic eczema flares, they should see their doctor if they develop a fever, experience chills, have reduced energy, or develop signs of infection, such as oozing blisters and excessive itchiness.


Treatment for infected eczema varies based on the type of infection present. If the cause of the infection is a virus, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication.

In cases of bacterial infections, a doctor may choose to use either an oral or topical antibiotic. Doctors are likely to recommend creams for mild cases and prescribe oral antibiotics for more advanced cases. A doctor may also prescribe a steroid cream to reduce associated swelling and redness.

Fungal infections require antifungal creams or medication. Similarly, a steroid cream may also help with a fungal-infected eczema rash. Some antifungal creams that may help with the infection are available over the counter.

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Natural treatments

Dropper above essential oil bottle, with a drop falling back into the glass bottle.
Evening primrose or tea tree essential oil may help to treat infected eczema.

Some people and caregivers may want to supplement medication with natural alternatives to treat or prevent infections from coming back.

People seeking natural remedies for infected eczema may choose to try the following:

  • essential oils, such as evening primrose and tea tree

  • herbal supplements for eczema flares

  • natural soaps and creams with emollients

  • probiotics while taking antibiotics

  • oatmeal baths to help soothe and dry the eczema


A person can help prevent infected eczema by reducing eczema flares and avoiding scratching. Also, those with eczema should keep their skin as clean as possible. When flares occur, a person should follow the recommended treatment plan to help manage and reduce the flare.

For flares occurring in folds or naturally more moist areas of the skin, care should be taken to keep the area dry and clean.


Infected eczema is a relatively easy condition to avoid. One of the most common ways an infection occurs is through scratching and scraping the eczema rash open, leaving an open sore on the skin that bacteria or viruses can enter.

Children who have eczema should be monitored and reminded not to scratch. If infected, a person should seek medical treatment to prevent the infection from getting worse.

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Medical News Today: Dry skin: Seven home remedies

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    Agero, A. L., & Verallo-Rowell, V. M. (2004, September). A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis [Abstract]. Dermatitis, 15(3), 109-116. Retrieved from

    Brooks, J., Cowdell, F., Ersser, S. J., & Gardiner, E. D. (2017, January 12). Skin cleansing and emolliating for older people: A quasi-experimental pilot study [Abstract]. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 12(3). Retrieved from

    Danby, S. G., AlEnezi, T., Sultan, A., Lavender, T., Chittock, J., Brown, K., … Cork, M. J. (2012, September 20). Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: Implications for neonatal skin care [Abstract]. Pediatric Dermatology, 30(1), 42-50. Retrieved from

    Ediriweera, E. R. H. S. S., & Premarathna, N. Y. S. (2012, April-June). Medicinal and cosmetic uses of bee’s honey – A review. An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, 33(2), 178-182. Retrieved from

    Morifuji, M., Oba, C., Ichikawa, S., Ito, K., Kawahata, K., Asami, Y., … Sugawara, T. (2015, June). A novel mechanism for improvement of dry skin by dietary milk phospholipids: Effect on epidermal covalently bound ceramides and skin inflammation in hairless mice [Abstract]. Journal of Dermatological Science, 78(3), 224-231. Retrieved from

    Reynertson, K. A., Garay, M., Nebus, J., Chon, S., Kaur, S., Mahmood, K., … Southall, M. D. (2015, January). Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin [Abstract]. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 14(1), 43-48. Retrieved from

    Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, S. K., & Gambhir, M. L. (2016, May-June). Moisturizers: The slippery road. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 61(3), 279-287. Retrieved from

    West, D. P., & Zhu, Y. F. (2003, February). Evaluation of aloe vera gel gloves in the treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure [Abstract]. American Journal of Infection Control, 31(1), 40-2. Retrieved from

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Medical News Today: What is the best time to take vitamins?

Many people choose to take vitamins and other dietary supplements. However, a vitamin’s effectiveness can be altered by when and how a person consumes vitamins.

Time of day, food, and liquid intake can have negative or positive effects on how well a vitamin works and how much of the vitamin is absorbed by the body.

This article explores the general effectiveness of vitamins and the ideal circumstances in which to take different types.

Should a person take vitamins at all?

Spoonful of different vitamins and supplements over vegetables.
Medical professionals often recommend eating a varied and nutrient-rich diet, rather than relying on vitamins and supplements.

There is more and more research indicating that, in most cases, taking vitamins has neither a beneficial nor adverse effect in people who take them regularly.

However, people should approach vitamin use with caution as they may have unintended consequences when combined with prescription or over the counter medications.

There are some, such as vitamin-E and beta carotene, that when taken in large doses may be harmful or fatal.

Pregnant women should take particular care when choosing supplements. For example, high levels of Vitamin A can cause congenital disabilities. On the other hand, folic acid can help with the fetus’s development and prevent spina bifida.

Some researchers suggest that the best method to get the vitamins is not through supplements at all.

They suggest a person eat nutrient-rich foods such as:

  • kale

  • spinach

  • nuts

  • fruits

  • low-fat meats.

They argue that a vitamin cannot replace a healthy, well-rounded diet.

However, some still believe that a person should take a multivitamin to help fill in the gaps of a less than ideal diet. Also, there is limited research that suggests taking vitamins may play a role in reducing the risk of diseases, such as heart disease.

Still, most vitamins offer no known ill effect for an average, healthy person. Individuals who take regular prescription or over the counter medication should consult their doctor before taking any vitamin supplements.

The best times to take different types of vitamins

When to take B vitamins

B vitamins are used for energy boosts and stress reduction. There are eight different types of B vitamins, each having a separate function for the body. The types of B vitamins include:

  • thiamin

  • riboflavin

  • vitamin-B6

  • niacin

  • biotin

  • vitamin-B12

  • folic acid

  • pantothenic acid

These B vitamins can be taken at the same time. In fact, companies offer vitamin complexes, which are combinations of the daily amount of each of the 8 B vitamin types.

The best time of day to take a B vitamin is after waking up. Taking B vitamins on an empty stomach is supposed to help with absorption of the vitamin.

Taking B vitamins also tend to increase energy, so taking them too late in the day may affect a person’s ability to fall asleep

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When to take water-soluble vitamins

Glass bottles and jars filled with different vitamins and supplements.
Water soluble vitamins are not produced or stored by the body, so these must be obtained through diet or supplements.

These vitamins are not naturally produced or stored by the human body. As a result, people need to get water-soluble vitamins from animal, plant, and possibly supplemental sources frequently.

Types of water-soluble vitamins include:

  • vitamin C

  • most vitamin B types

Vitamin C is considered safe to take in recommended amounts.

It is found in a variety of plant products, such as orange juice, grapefruit, and lemons. The body does not store vitamin C, so people should take it daily, ideally in small doses throughout the day.

When to take fat-soluble vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are needed in small doses. Taking large doses of fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful or toxic to a person’s body.

Fat-soluble vitamins are not lost during cooking food. Usually, a person will get all the fat-soluble vitamins they need through food and do not need to take them as supplements.

Some examples of fat-soluble vitamins include:

These vitamins are stored in the body’s liver and fatty tissues. Therefore, they are not needed as often. Because large amounts of these vitamins can lead to ill effects, researchers tend to agree that people should not take supplements containing these vitamins.

The average, healthy person with a balanced diet will get enough fat-soluble vitamins through their regular diet.

When to take prenatal vitamins

It is recommended that women who are considering becoming pregnant take a folic acid supplement for a full year before conception.

It is also recommended that women take prenatal vitamins on a daily basis during their pregnancy. Sometimes doctors will also recommend that women take their prenatal vitamins at a particular time of day.

Setting a timetable of this sort depends on whether or not the woman is experiencing morning sickness, a common pregnancy symptom that makes many women experience nausea and vomiting throughout the day. If the prenatal vitamin increases a woman’s feelings of nausea, she can consider taking the vitamin at bedtime with a small amount of food.

There are a variety of prenatal vitamins available, and a pregnant woman should exercise caution when choosing which one to take. Although similar, each one may contain differing amounts of nutrients and ingredients. Typical ingredients include:

Before starting to take prenatal vitamins, a woman should talk to her doctor for suggestions and recommendations. It is possible to overdose on vitamins, which can have ill effects for the woman or baby. Do not take double doses of prenatal vitamins.

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Other supplements

Woman in supermarket shopping for vitamins and supplements, and checking the labels of different brands.
As well as vitamin supplements, mineral supplements are also available.

The human body needs both vitamins and minerals to function properly. Like vitamins, minerals are available in over the counter supplements. And, similar to vitamins, there are many claims about what mineral supplements can do for a person’s health.

Some example minerals include:

Again, people should exercise caution before taking a mineral supplement. Though they may be beneficial, most research appears to indicate that mineral supplements have no positive effect on a person’s health.

It is possible to take too much of a mineral, which can have an adverse effect on a person’s health.

People should take minerals daily with food. Taking mineral supplements without food may result in unwanted side effects, such as an upset stomach.

Risks and considerations

People must take care when considering taking vitamin and mineral supplements

Caution is required because claims of effectiveness and actual effectiveness may vary greatly. Also, many vitamins and minerals can be harmful when taken in large doses; other vitamins may interact poorly with medications taken on a regular basis.

As mentioned above, little research actually suggests that supplements are effective in delivering nutrients to the body.


There is limited evidence from independent researchers that suggest that vitamin supplements have any real effect on a person’s health at all.

In fact, when taken in too large a dose, some vitamins may actually pose some health risks.

Before starting a vitamin supplement, a person should consult a doctor to make sure that what they are considering taking will be safe. Always try to get vitamins and nutrients from reputable outlets, particularly those specializing in whole foods.

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Medical News Today: Can coffee help to treat Parkinson’s? Not likely

a sad cup of coffee
New research suggests that caffeine is unlikely to benefit patients with Parkinson’s disease.
In 2012, Canadian researchers brought some welcome news for patients with Parkinson’s disease: caffeine may ease symptoms of the disease. But 5 years on, the research team has revealed that the coffee compound may not be so beneficial after all.

The disappointing findings come from a new analysis of more than 120 older adults with Parkinson’s disease.

Compared with participants who were given a placebo, subjects who consumed caffeine in doses equivalent to around three cups of coffee per day showed no improvements in movement symptoms or quality of life after 6 to 18 months of follow-up.

Dr. Ronald B. Postuma, of McGill University in Canada, and colleagues recently reported their results in the journal Neurology.

According to The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, up to 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease, which is a chronic, progressive central nervous system disorder affecting movement.

While the symptoms of Parkinson’s can be different for each individual, tremors, slowness of movement, or bradykinesia, and muscle rigidity are common.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are medications available that can help patients to manage their symptoms.

From the results of their previous study – published in August 2012 – Dr. Postuma and colleagues believed that they may have identified another promising treatment strategy for patients with Parkinson’s, after finding that 6 weeks of caffeine supplementation led to improvements in movement in patients with the disease.

Their latest study looked at the longer-term effects of caffeine supplementation, but it was unable to find any benefits for patients with Parkinson’s.

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Caffeine did not improve movement

The new research included 121 adults aged 62 years, on average. All patients had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at least 4 years prior, and they were followed-up for between 6 and 18 months.

Half of the subjects were given 200 milligrams of caffeine twice daily – which is the equivalent to around three cups of coffee each day – while the remaining participants were given a placebo.

The researchers note that the caffeine-consuming participants began with a placebo and gradually increased their caffeine dose over the first 9 weeks, reaching 200 milligrams twice daily at week 9. This was to help them adjust to the caffeine.

Upon assessing the movement symptoms and quality of life of the participants, the researchers were unable to identify any differences between subjects who took caffeine and those who took the placebo.

“While our previous study showed possible improvement in symptoms, that study was shorter, so it’s possible that caffeine may have a short-term benefit that quickly dissipates,” notes Dr. Postuma.

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Regardless, our core finding is that caffeine cannot be recommended as therapy for movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.”

Dr. Ronald B. Postuma

The team notes that the current study has some limitations. For example, they say that it is possible that some subjects did not meet the study requirements, and they did not measure blood caffeine levels to help account for this fact.

What is more, the reaserchers say that the caffeine dose of 200 milligrams twice daily was chosen based upon doses used in previous studies, and that higher doses could pose different outcomes.

Still, the current evidence indicates that for patients with Parkinson’s disease, that cup of joe is unlikely to offer any benefits for movement.

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Medical News Today: Is turmeric good for your skin?

Turmeric is a vivid, fragrant, and bitter spice. It has been used in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine for purposes as diverse as treating cancer to repelling mosquitoes.

People have attributed turmeric with seemingly miraculous healing properties for nearly 4,000 years. The bright yellow powder derived from the root of the turmeric plant is also known as Golden Goddess and Indian Saffron. Turmeric is also widely used as a food colorant and dye.

In this article, we look at whether turmeric can be beneficial for skin health, including psoriasis and acne.

What are the potential benefits for the skin?

turmeric root and powder on a board
The turmeric plant is related to the ginger plant and its yellow color derives from curcumin.

The bright yellow color of turmeric derives from its active component, curcumin.

Studies have suggested that curcumin has protective effects against skin-damaging chemicals and environmental pollutants.

Curcumin protects the skin by combating free radicals and reducing inflammation. There is also evidence to suggest that curcumin may help the following skin conditions:

Skin cancer

Melanoma may benefit from curcumin treatment. Curcumin is thought to clean-up dysfunctional cellular components. It may also inhibit the growth of melanoma cells and tumor progression.


Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin and joint disease that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Curcumin is thought to inhibit the immune pathways responsible for psoriasis.


Scleroderma causes the immune system to attack otherwise healthy connective tissue, resulting in scarring. This scarring usually occurs under the skin and around internal organs and blood vessels.

Curcumin’s positive effects on scar formation are thought to help manage the effects of scleroderma.


Vitiligo is a condition that causes skin depigmentation, resulting in white patches of skin. In some cases, curcumin may prevent oxidative stress in the epidermal skin cells that are responsible for producing melanin.


Acne is a common skin condition characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, and pustules. A skin cream containing curcumin can potentially be used to regulate skin sebum production, which may help people who have acne.

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How to use turmeric for the skin

Curcumin from turmeric is poorly absorbed when taken orally. It metabolizes quickly and is soon eliminated from the body.

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, increases the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin. For this reason, it is often combined with medicinal turmeric products.

Turmeric preparations can be directly applied to fresh wounds, rashes, bruises, and insect bites. Medicinal turmeric comes in a range of forms, including:

turmeric capsules
Medicinal turmeric may come in capsules and tablets.

  • capsules and tablets

  • ointments

  • fluid extract

  • tincture

  • oil

Curcumin is also found in the following products:

  • energy drinks

  • soaps

  • cosmetics

What are the risks?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared turmeric and its active component curcumin as generally safe for use and consumption. However, natural remedies can trigger side effects, cause allergies, and may react in unwanted ways with other herbs, supplements, or medications.

Claims that all curcumin-containing supplements contain 95 percent curcuminoids have not been confirmed by the FDA. The FDA does not monitor turmeric or curcumin supplements, so a person should take care to purchase a reputable brand.

Medication for any of the following conditions should not be used with medicinal turmeric or curcumin without first talking to a doctor:


This type of medication may become more potent when combined with curcumin-based remedies, which may increase the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Blood thinners

Curcumin has blood-thinning properties, and people should not take it with other blood thinners, including aspirin. Doing so may increase the risk of bleeding.

Curcumin should not be taken for 2 weeks before surgery because it has blood-thinning properties.

Stomach acid

Turmeric may interfere with the action of drugs that reduce stomach acid and increase the production of stomach acid.

Curcumin-containing supplements, which are available without a prescription in the U.S., may cause gastritis and peptic ulcers if taken on an empty stomach.

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Turmeric has assumed an almost mythical status in some cultures for its use in an extraordinarily broad range of ailments. Turmeric is thought to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties.

While it has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years, its biological characteristics have only been identified in the mid-twentieth century. The medicinal value of turmeric has since become the subject of scientific studies and clinical trials.

While some early outcomes seem to back up at least some of the healing qualities long since attributed to it, a recent study into its medicinal chemistry concluded that curcumin does not appear to have the properties required for a good drug candidate.

Anyone wanting to take supplements or herbs should discuss it with a doctor first to avoid negative interactions with medications or disease management.

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Medical News Today: Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson’s risk by 28 percent, study finds

a woman tipping medication into her hands
The type 2 diabetes drugs glitazones could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, say researchers.
A class of drugs currently used to treat diabetes could lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s, a new study reveals, offering hope of new prevention and treatment strategies for the disease.

By analyzing more than 100 million drug prescriptions in Norway, researchers found that patients who used glitazones (GTZs) saw their risk of Parkinson’s disease reduced by more than a quarter.

GTZs – also known as thiazolidinediones – are approved in the United States for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They work by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

Study co-author Charalampos Tzoulis, from the University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues recently reported their results in the journal Movement Disorders.

Studies have investigated the use of GTZs for the prevention of Parkinson’s disease, but they have produced conflicting results. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine in 2015, for example, identified a lower incidence of Parkinson’s in patients who used GTZs, while another found no link between GTZ use and Parkinson’s risk.

“Based on current evidence, it remains unclear whether GTZs have a neuroprotective effect in PD [Parkinson’s disease],” note Tzoulis and colleagues.

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GTZs reduced Parkinson’s risk

Aiming to gain a better understanding of the link between GTZ use and Parkinson’s risk, the researchers analyzed data from the Norwegian Prescription Database, which holds data on all medications dispensed in pharmacies across Norway, as well as information on the patients to whom these medications are prescribed.

The researchers looked at the link between the use of GTZs, metformin – which is the primary drug prescribed for type 2 diabetes – and the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Over a 10-year period between January 2005 and December 2014, the team identified 94,349 metformin users and 8,396 GTZ users who met the study criteria.

The study revealed that, compared with users of metformin, patients who used GTZs were 28 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

They are unable to explain the precise mechanisms behind their findings, but they speculate that GTZs might improve the function of mitochondria. These are organelles that produce energy for cells, enabling them to function.

In a previous study, Tzoulis and team found that patients with Parkinson’s disease experience a reduction in mitochondrial production. “It is possible,” they say, “that GTZ drugs ameliorate these defects by increasing mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] synthesis and overall mitochondrial mass.”

Still, the team says that further studies are needed to investigate this possible mechanism. “If we understand the mechanisms behind the protection, then we have a chance to develop a new treatment,” says Tzoulis.

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A ‘step toward solving the Parkinson’s riddle’

The researchers cite a number of limitations to their study. For instance, the team did not have data on the GTZ or metformin dose each patient was using, so they are unable to determine the dose-response relationship between diabetes medication and the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Also, the researchers note the lack of information on the diabetes stage of each patient. “However,” they say, “as diabetes has not been shown to have a definite effect on the risk for PD, we find it unlikely that treatment stage would significantly bias our results.”

Because the study only included patients who had been diagnosed with diabetes, the findings cannot be generalized to the population as a whole.

That said, the team believes that the study could lead to new prevention and treatment strategies for Parkinson’s disease, a condition that is diagnosed in around 60,000 people in the U.S. every year.

We have made an important discovery, which takes us a step further toward solving the Parkinson’s riddle.”

Charalampos Tzoulis

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Medical News Today: How to get an Adonis belt

The Adonis belt – sometimes called Apollo’s belt – refers to two V-shaped muscular grooves on the abdominal muscles alongside the hips.

This feature of the abdominal muscles takes its name from Adonis, the legendary god of fertility, youth, and beauty.

The grooves of the Adonis belt are, in fact, ligaments, not muscles. This means that cultivating an Adonis belt requires the loss of fat, not the creation of muscle.

What is the Adonis belt?

Torso of man with adonis belt
The two shallow grooves of the adonis belt are ligaments rather than muscles.

The Adonis belt is a thick band of connective tissue that runs through the external oblique abdominal muscles, across the groin, and into the front portion of the iliac spine.

People who are relatively physically weak may have a visible inguinal ligament, while powerful and fit people might not. Instead, the Adonis belt is associated with body fat.

People with less body fat are more likely to have a visible Adonis belt.

This means a person could spend several hours each day on abdominal exercises and still not develop an Adonis belt or any other visible sign of abdominal strength.

For a person to have visible abdominal muscles, their percentage of body fat needs to be below 15 percent. For the Adonis belt to make an appearance, body fat might need to be as low as 6-13 percent.

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How to get an Adonis belt

protein rich food
A protein rich diet may boost feelings of fullness and aid weight loss.

To get an Adonis belt, one might think it makes sense to exercise the abdominal and hip muscles.

The problem is that this strategy does not work. The notion that it is possible to reduce fat in a particular area of the body with targeted exercises is a myth.

Strengthening a muscle to increase its size will not make it visible under the fat. Both diet and exercise play a role in reducing body fat.

Because genetics can affect body fat percentage, it is easier for some people to develop an Adonis belt than others.

Dieting for an Adonis belt

Eating fewer calories than the body needs for energy can support fat loss. That means cutting down on total caloric intake. It can also help to cut back on sweetened snacks and carbohydrates.

Some foods also require more energy to burn than others. Protein is one such food. It can also promote feelings of fullness, making it an ideal choice for people trying to avoid overeating.

And because protein is vital for muscle development, increasing protein intake can support healthy, visible abdominal muscles.

Exercises for reducing body fat

Activities that involve large groups of muscles and which get the heart pumping burn more fat than targeted exercises such as crunches and sit-ups.

Try intensive cardiovascular exercises such as:

  • running

  • swimming

  • jumping rope

  • punching-bag workouts

  • sprints

  • cardio-heavy sports, such as football, tennis, or other athletics

The longer the exercise is performed and the more exhausting it feels, the more calories – and therefore the more fat – it will burn.

Exercises for the Adonis belt

Building muscle can help the body burn more calories, and therefore shed more fat. Strengthening the muscles surrounding the inguinal ligament can help the area look more defined, and support fat burning. Try the following:


Planks strengthen and stabilize the back and abdominal muscles. Lie on the stomach with the elbows bent and forearms flat on the ground. Elevate the trunk off the ground while tensing the abdominal muscles. Hold for 5 seconds, gradually building to longer holds.

Next, try a side plank. Lie on one side with the legs positioned one on top of the other. Rest on a bent elbow. Then engage the abs by tightening them and raise the trunk and hips off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, building gradually to a hold of 30 seconds or longer. 

Stomach vacuum

Stand up straight and take a deep breath into the stomach. Then exhale all the air from the lungs, drawing the stomach in. Envision the belly button moving toward the spine, sucking the stomach in as far as possible. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat for several breaths. Once the stomach vacuum exercise is mastered, it is possible to perform while lying or sitting.

Lateral heel touches

Lateral heel touches target the obliques, which complement the appearance of an Adonis belt. Lie on the back with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep the arms extended out and parallel with the floor. While engaging the abdominal muscles, lift the head, neck, and upper back off the ground. Bend right to touch the right heel, then left to touch the left heel. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions.

Exercise ball crunches

Man doing exercise ball crunches
Exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the inguinal ligament may give a more defined appearance.

Exercise ball crunches more effectively engage the abs than traditional crunches. Lie on an exercise ball such that the ball is positioned at the small of the back.

With the abs engaged and feet flat on the ground, perform a crunch by lifting the head, neck, and upper torso. The arms can be across the chest, behind the head, or extended straight, but should not be used to make it easier to crunch up. Repeat 5-10 times for 3-5 sets.

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Risks of developing an Adonis belt

In a culture fixated on thinness, it is easy to see body fat as bad. Fat, however, plays a protective role. Everyone needs some fat to be healthy. Women are especially vulnerable to health problems when they shed too much body fat, because they have higher body fat percentages than men. Women with very low body fat may not menstruate, which can undermine or prevent fertility

Women with body fat percentages below 15 percent are at risk of several health problems. This means that it may be difficult, and perhaps even impossible, for women to develop an Adonis belt and remain healthy. For men, health tends to decline when body fat dips below 8 percent, so most men can safely develop an Adonis belt.

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Medical News Today: Hematopoiesis: All you need to know

Hematopoiesis is the production of all of the cellular components of blood and blood plasma. It occurs within the hematopoietic system, which includes organs and tissues such as the bone marrow, liver, and spleen.

Simply, hematopoiesis is the process through which the body manufactures blood cells. It begins early in the development of an embryo, well before birth, and continues for the life of an individual.

What is hematopoiesis?

3d render of red blood cells
Red blood cells transport oxygen through the body.

The blood is made up of more than 10 different cell types. Each of these cell types falls into one of three broad categories:

1. Red blood cells (erythrocytes): These transport oxygen and hemoglobin throughout the body.

2. White blood cells (leukocytes): These support the immune system. There are several different types of white blood cells:

  • Lymphocytes: Including T cells and B cells, which help fight some viruses and tumors.

  • Neutrophils: These help fight bacterial and fungal infections.

  • Eosinophils: These play a role in the inflammatory response, and help fight some parasites.

  • Basophils: These release the histamines necessary for the inflammatory response.

  • Macrophages: These engulf and digest debris, including bacteria.

3. Platelets (thrombocytes): These help the blood to clot.

Current research endorses a theory of hematopoiesis called the monophyletic theory. This theory says that one type of stem cell produces all types of blood cells.

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Where does hematopoiesis occur?

Hematopoiesis occurs in many places:

Hematopoiesis in the embryo

pregnant women and fetus
Hematopoiesis in the embryo provides organs with oxygen.

Sometimes called primitive hematopoiesis, hematopoiesis in the embryo produces only red blood cells that can provide developing organs with oxygen. At this stage in development, the yolk sac, which nourishes the embryo until the placenta is fully developed, controls hematopoiesis.

As the embryo continues to develop, the hematopoiesis process moves to the liver, the spleen, and bone marrow, and begins producing other types of blood cells.

In adults, hematopoiesis of red blood cells and platelets occurs primarily in the bone marrow. In infants and children, it may also continue in the spleen and liver.

The lymph system, particularly the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus, produces a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Tissue in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes and some other organs produce another type of white blood cells, called monocytes.

The process of hematopoiesis

The rate of hematopoiesis depends on the body’s needs. The body continually manufactures new blood cells to replace old ones. About 1 percent of the body’s blood cells must be replaced every day.

White blood cells have the shortest life span, sometimes surviving just a few hours to a few days, while red blood cells can last up to 120 days or so.

The process of hematopoiesis begins with an unspecialized stem cell. This stem cell multiplies, and some of these new cells transform into precursor cells. These are cells that are destined to become a particular type of blood cell but are not yet fully developed. However, these immature cells soon divide and mature into blood components, such as red and white blood cells, or platelets.

Although researchers understand the basics of hematopoiesis, there is an-ongoing scientific debate about how the stem cells that play a role in hematopoiesis are formed.

What are the types of hematopoiesis?

Each type of blood cell follows a slightly different path of hematopoiesis. All begin as stem cells called multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). From there, hematopoiesis follows two distinct pathways.

Trilineage hematopoiesis refers to the production of three types of blood cells: platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Each of these cells begins with the transformation of HSC into cells called common myeloid progenitors (CMP).

After that, the process varies slightly. At each stage of the process, the precursor cells become more organized:

Red blood cells and platelets

  • Red blood cells: CMP cells change five times before finally becoming red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes.

  • Platelets: CMP cells transform into three different cell types before becoming platelets.

White blood cells

There are several types of white blood cells, each following an individual path during hematopoiesis. All white blood cells initially transform from CMP cells into to myeoblasts. After that, the process is as follows:

  • Before becoming a neutrophil, eosinophil, or basophil, a myeoblast goes through four further stages of development.

  • To become a macrophage, a myeoblast has to transform three more times.

A second pathway of hematopoiesis produces T and B cells.

T cells and B cells

To produce lymphocytes, MHCs transform into cells called common lymphoid progenitors, which then become lymphoblasts. Lymphoblasts differentiate into infection-fighting T cells and B cells. Some B cells differentiate into plasma cells after exposure to infection.

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Hematopoiesis and health

test tube of blood anemia
Anemia may occur if the blood lacks hemoglobin.

Some blood disorders can affect healthy blood cells in the blood, even when hematopoiesis occurs. For example, cancers of the white blood cells such as leukemia and lymphoma can alter the number of white blood cells in the bloodstream. Tumors in hematopoietic tissue that produces blood cells, such as bone marrow can affect blood cell counts.

The aging process can increase the amount of fat present in the bone marrow. This increase in fat can make it harder for the marrow to produce blood cells. If the body needs additional blood cells due to an illness, the bone marrow is unable to stay ahead of this demand. This can cause anemia, which occurs when the blood lacks hemoglobin from red blood cells.

Hematopoiesis is a constant process that produces a massive number of cells. Estimates vary, and the precise number of cells depends on individual needs. But in a typical day, the body might produce 200 billion red blood cells, 10 million white blood cells, and 400 billion platelets.

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