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The Blackmores Institute 2105 symposium Translating Research into
Practice in early November was well attended by pharmacists and GPs
seeking greater understanding of complementary medicines.
Director of Blackmores Institute
Adjunct Associate Professor Lesley
Braun, opened the symposium and said
that the event was about sharing the
latest research with practitioners and
transforming it into real clinical practice,
for the benefit of Australians.
'It will allow Australian pharmacists, GPs
and other healthcare professionals to
hear from the researchers themselves
and help them make clinical sense of
the research findings to further optimise
patient care,' Prof Braun said.
'It behoves us all to be right on top
of the latest evidence' as consumers
get hold of it very quickly and will ask
questions of their health professionals
She gave the recent example of news
surrounding new research about the
role of oral vitamin B3 derivative in
cutting the risk of new skin cancers.
'Mainstream media reports have
featured images of Vegemite and
beer. Consumers would need to drink
713 beers a day to get enough B3,'
'We have certainly moved on from
the time when practice was informed
by folklore, as the store of evidence
expands into greater understanding of
issues such as safety and bioavailability
as well as efficacy.
'Anyone who says there's no research
[into complementary and integrative
medicine] holds an ignorant view
which may be doing patients a
Swinburne University Professor
Andrew Scholey told delegates to
the Blackmores Symposium that,
'cognitive decline is not inevitable'.
Professor Scholey, who is Director of the
Centre for Human Psychopharmacology
at the University, presented results from
the first study to examine the effects of
curcumin, a component of the Indian
spice turmeric, on cognition and mood
in a healthy older people or to examine
any acute behavioural effects in humans.
Published in the Journal of
Psychopharmacology, the study found
that four weeks of supplementation with
curcumin reduced fatigue and helped
protect against the negative mood
associated with a mental challenge.
Professor Scholey said, 'even a single
dose significantly improved attention
and working memory.'
The double-blind, placebo controlled
study looked at mental performance
and mood after a single dose and
following four weeks supplementation.
'A number of preclinical studies have
shown that curcumin has the right
properties which may prevent or relieve
brain decline, dementia or mood
disorders in older people but this is the
first study to show these benefits in
humans,' Prof Scholey said.
'Our study found significant benefits
to attention, working memory in the
hour or so after a single dose. After four
weeks the working memory effect
was still there and a number of other
positive effects emerged. These included
Individualising omega 3 intake
While a general recommendation
for omega-3 intake is useful,
attention needs to be paid to individual
variation in omega-3 levels, according
to Professor of Nutrition Research in
the School of Biomedical Sciences and
Pharmacy and Director of the Clinical
Nutrition Research Centre at the
University of Newcastle, Peter Howe.
Speaking at the Blackmores symposium
he said: 'We have to get away from
thinking about populations and
population requirements, we are
individuals. The type and amount of
omega-3s people require depend on
their own individual requirements,
though at a population level aiming for
500mg/ day is useful.'
Professor Howe said the omega-3 Index,
a measure of EPA and DHA levels in
red blood cells, may help to indicate
the risk of heart disease and other
common health conditions including
inflammatory and mood disorders.
Studies had also shown that people
with major depressive disorder are more
likely to have low levels. Omega-3 levels
are also inversely correlated with
overweight and obesity.
'Inadequate consumption of
long-chain omega-3 acids may
underlie a variety of health issues,
including cardiovascular disease,
depression and chronic inflammatory
conditions such as arthritis and asthma,'
Professor Howe said.
'We don't have a lot of oily fish
in Australia so, for some people,
supplementation with omega-3
fatty acids may be the most reliable
way of getting the right amount.
However, requirements vary between
individuals. The best way of ensuring
that individual intakes are adequate
is to adopt the omega-3 Index as a
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