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Aug 29, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- SAGE'S MEMORY-BOOSTING POWER STUDIED

New research shows how the herb sage can improve memory, confirming centuries-old theories. British scientists studying healthy, young adults found those who had taken sage oil capsules performed significantly better in a word recall test. Sage's reputation is based on old texts by herbalists such as John Gerard, who wrote about sage in 1597, claiming "It is singularly good for the head and brain and quickeneth the nerves and memory", and Nicholas Culpeper, whose 1652 text says "It also heals the memory, warming and quickening the senses". People were known to take sage for memory loss centuries ago and drank teas and tinctures containing extracts of the herb. Sage is being investigated as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease after earlier research suggested it inhibits an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down the chemical messenger acetylcholine. Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, affecting an estimated 10 million people worldwide, is accompanied by a drop in acetylcholine. Many of the current drugs, such as donepezil, have unpleasant side effects and doctors have been looking for alternatives. No side-effects were noted in the sage trial, researchers reported.


Trails and other places where people can engage in physical activity all make a difference in how much they will exercise, researchers have found. Even the addition of streetlights can make a difference. But when such amenities are unavailable, said researchers from the University of North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, levels of physical activity drop. Researchers called 1,796 randomly selected adults in North Carolina and asked 133 questions ranging from how much respondents exercised to what traffic was like in their neighborhoods and if there were sidewalks, trails for walking or biking and unattended dogs. "We found no association between leisure activity and unattended dogs and only a weak link with heavy traffic," one of the study's authors said. "Sidewalks appeared to make only a small positive difference, too. But people who reported having access to places for exercise of various kinds and those who reported neighborhood trails were significantly more likely to be getting the recommended amount of physical activity even after we took into account factors like race and years of education." Low levels of physical activity among U.S. adults have been implicated in the ongoing national epidemic of obesity, researchers said. One recent study attributed more than 280,000 deaths in this country each year to people being overweight or obese.


Monitoring patients with a heart imaging scan shows why some patients with normal cholesterol remain at high risk for heart problems, researchers say. Of 23 patients who took the cholesterol drug pravastatin, all lowered their total cholesterol in about six weeks. However, even with a lipid profile that met national risk guidelines, the heart function of many patients did not improve until six months later. In two patients, it worsened, the scans showed. The research underscores the need to look beyond routine blood cholesterol tests as the most reliable way to predict heart disease, the nation's leading killer, says lead author Ronald Schwartz, director of Nuclear Cardiology at Strong Memorial Hospital.


The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new dosage strength for Avandamet, a treatment that combines two leading diabetes medications in one pill. The new Avandamet 1 gram tablet will offer dosing flexibility for Type 2 diabetes patients who now take a daily total of 2 grams of metformin, researchers said. Over the long term, some patients on traditional monotherapy do not reach the recommended goal for blood sugar control, requiring the addition of a second agent, doctors said. The combination therapy will provide another option for managing Type 2 diabetes, they said. The therapy, made by GlaxoSmithKline, will be available in six weeks, researchers said.

(Editors: For more information about SAGE, contact Nicola Tildesley in the U.K. at +44-191-204-8818 or For EXERCISE, David Williamson at 919-962-8596. For HEART, Tom Rickey at 585-275-7954 or For TREATMENT, Caren Wagner at 212-798-9744 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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