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Banana may prevent kidney stones, study says

Banana stalk may be the next alternative herbal remedy against kidney stones according to a study done on mice by Pharmacy students at the San Pedro College in Davao City.

Student researchers recommended further studies to test the effectiveness of banana stalk in prevention of kidney stones in humans.

Kidney stones or renal calculi are hard masses developed from the crystalized substances from the urine. Factors attributed to the formation of the kidney stones include low fluid intake, acidic urine, and high intake of foods rich in protein (meat and beans), salt (canned and processed foods), and oxalate (spinach, tea, nuts, and cocoa).

During the study, laboratory mice were drug-induced to develop kidney stones and were given banana stalks that were processed into capsules for 10 days.
Laboratory examinations showed that mice fed with banana capsules did not show signs of developing kidney stones. Blood and urine examination conducted on the mice revealed healthy functioning kidneys.

Researchers attributed to the high magnesium and potassium content of the plant for its ability to prevent the formation of kidney stones. They explained that magnesium combines readily with the oxalates in the food we eat, inhibiting the growth of a type of kidney stone known as calcium oxalate crystals. Potassium on the other hand balances the acidity of the urine preventing increase in urine acidity and development of calcium oxalate crystals.

While treatments for kidney stones are available, the student researchers argued that prevention is still better. The cost of treatment for removal of kidney stones can be exorbitant and may be beyond the reach the poor, the researchers expressed that the study will help with the development of affordable remedy against kidney stones. “This study will provide economical alternative maintenance herbal plant for the prevention of formation of kidney stones,” they said.

The research, entitled, “The Anti-Urolithiatic Activity of the Tundan Saging (Musa paradisiaca Linn.) Pseudo-Stem Capsule in Ethylene Glycol-Induced Albino Rats (Rattus norvegicus): A Potential Preventng Agent for Kidney Stone Formation,” was recently awarded second prize at the Gruppo Medica award during the Philippine National Health Research System week Celebration in Cebu on August 12, 2014.

Davao students win first prize for research on antidengue property of papaya and tawa-tawa

Student-researchers bagged first prize at the Gruppo Medica Award for their research on the anti-dengue property of papaya (Carica papaya) and tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta) during the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week celebration in Cebu City on 12-14 August 2014.

Topping 21 research entries from all regions in the Philippines, the research done by Pharmacy students at the San Pedro College in Davao City revealed that tea concoction from tawa-tawa can increase blood platelet counts in rabbits by 194% in just 24 hours, whereas tea concoctions from papaya leaves only and mixture of papaya leaves and tawa-tawa plant yielded 85.74% and 83.44% increased in platelet counts respectively in rabbits within 24 hours.

Further laboratory tests on papaya and tawa-tawa revealed that both plants contain quercetin, a plant pigment known to naturally increase the platelet counts.

Recommending the continuation of the research, especially with the isolation of quercetin, the students stressed that the study is significant in the effort to develop treatment for the management of dengue. They said, “This research can benefit the society because it will pave the way to the development of new drug that is affordable, accessible, and effective against dengue.”

The Gruppo Medica Award is conferred annually by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) to give recognition to undergraduate researches on the practical or commercial application of herbal plants for health.

Malunggay demonstrates potential anticancer property in an award-winning study

Award-winning research eyed malunggay (Moringa oleifera) for its potential anticancer properties, after laboratory tests showed extracts from the seeds and leaves to be toxic to colorectal cancer cells.

The study, done by researchers at the De La Salle University and supported by the Philippine Council for the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), won the recently concluded Poster Exhibit Contest during the 8th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week celebration in Cebu City on 12-14 August 2014.

Through an in vitro test, researchers found that extract from malunggay can destroy colorectal cancer cells lines, while remaining safe and non-toxic on normal and healthy human cells. The ability was attributed to a bioactive compound that the researchers found in malunggay called, isothiocyanates. The compound has been previously reported to induce cell death in some human cancer cell lines.

Further test comparing malunggay extract to colchicine, a common anti-cancer drug, found that malunggay extract is less toxic to normal human cells than the commercial drug. Researchers explained that while colchicine is effective in destroying cancer cells, its toxic effect on healthy human cells is a huge disadvantage in using the drug. Therefore, the discovery of malunggay’s relative safety on normal human cell is very promising in search for effective and safe drug for cancer.

Researchers are hopeful that the research can establish strong foundation for further investigations of malunggay’s anticancer property. They said, “This study will provide solid scientific basis for at least one of the most important medicinal benefits that could be attributed to the plant – its anticancer property.”

Database set to protect Philippine cultural heritage on health

Patents on indigenous healing practices being wrongly granted to private companies endanger indigenous people’s rights to their own traditional knowledge and practices on health and healing.

To protect indigenous peoples’ claim to their cultural heritage, the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) developed the Philippine Traditional Knowledge Digital Library on Health (TKDL-Health), a digital library of the country’s traditional knowledge and practices on health, healing and diseases.

In an email interview, Dr. Isidro C. Sia, Institute of Herbal Medicine (IHM) Director, University of the Philippines Manila – National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH) and head of the Philippine TKDL-Health program, discussed that the TKDL-Health website helps prevent private entities from laying exclusive claim to the therapeutic practices or medicinal products of indigenous groups by creating proof of ownership for the traditional knowledge.

Dr. Sia cited India’s successful use of their own TKDL website to revoke a US patent on turmeric as a great example on how TKDL can be used as evidence for indigenous groups’ ownership of their healing practices.

The TKDL is consisted of databases of information regarding traditional knowledge on health, illness, and healing gathered from the documentary studies done among indigenous peoples and other cultural communities. At the moment, it supports information on 13,900 medicinal plants. Through the program, researchers and community members can work together as partners to catalogue the folk traditions in health, and in the process, advocate for the protection of the cultural legacy of the Filipinos. Go to to visit the site.

The TKDL-Health is a project supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), and the IHM, UPM-NIH.

Psoriasis indicates HIV infection

Doctors were warned to be more watchful of suspicious manifestation of skin diseases after a case study published at the Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) last month reported a 29-year old, unnamed man from Catanduanes, initially diagnosed with of psoriasis, was found to have developed the skin ailment due to HIV infection.

Psoriasis is a long-lasting, non-contagious skin disease characterized by red, itchy plaques and patches on the skin due to abnormal immune response of the body. Specific cause is unknown, but various factors such as lifestyle, drug allergy, and genetic susceptibility are thought to trigger the development of the disease. There is no known cure for psoriasis but treatments are available in managing its symptoms and spread. Continue reading