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Sep 17, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- HIBISCUS AS HEART HEALER?

Chinese researchers suggest hibiscus flower extract may offer the same heart-friendly benefits as red wine and tea. They found hibiscus contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels, a marker for heart disease. In the study, published in Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, Chau-Jong Wang and his team at Chung Shan Medical University in the Republic of China found the flower's antioxidant properties can prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, LDL or bad cholesterol, linked to heart disease. Hibiscus sabdariffa is used as a folk medicine for hypertension and liver disorder and an ingredient in popular soft drinks in various countries. "Experiments have shown that compounds extracted from red wine and tea reduce cholesterol and lipid build-up in the arteries of rats," Wang said. "This is the first study to show that hibiscus extract has the same effect."


The Food and Drug Administration has approved implantable contact lenses for patients with severe nearsightedness. The corrective lens may help some of the 3 million nearsighted men and women see without glasses, says Dr. Robert Maloney of the Maloney Vision Institute in Los Angeles, principle investigator in the three-year FDA clinical trial. The Verisyse micro lens is implanted between the cornea and iris, the colored part of the eye. The tiny lens, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, is centered over the pupil and held in place with tiny fasteners. The lens, which has been used in Europe for 10 years, can be surgically removed. In the study, all the patients saw 20/40 or better following the procedure and more than 90 percent reported overall satisfaction.


U.S. researchers say the steroid hormone prasterone may help quell symptoms of lupus in women. Systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic disease of the immune system, can wax and wane, but doctors say even its milder symptoms -- fatigue, rash, arthritis -- may be difficult to tolerate. The condition affects nine times as many women as men. Doctors have found abnormalities in the metabolism of the hormones estrogen and androgen in women patients. In the new study, researchers found prasterone, the pharmaceutical form of the steroid hormone DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone can stabilize the disease and alleviate symptoms in women, Dr. Michelle Petri of Johns Hopkins University reports in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.


A study shows the antidepressant duloxetine may help relieve the chronic, incapacitating pain that marks fibromyalgia. The musculoskeletal disorder, which affects six times more women than men, can cause body pain, muscle tenderness, headaches, sleep disturbances and fatigue. While its cause remains a mystery, fibromyalgia has been linked to abnormalities in the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, chemicals key to mood and linked to depression. Not all patients with fibromyalgia, however, have depression or respond to antidepressants. Treatment studies of the other types of antidepressant drugs, including selective serotonin uptake inhibitors and tricyclic agents, have had mixed results. New results show duloxetine can reduce pain and improve other symptoms, scientists report in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.

(Editors: For more information about HEART, contact David Greenberg at (201) 748-6484 or For CONTACTS, Shelle Murach at (714) 206-4138. For LUPUS, Amy Molnar at (201) 748-8844 or For PAIN, Amy Molnar at (201) 748-8844 or

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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