Posts made in February, 2012

Pomegranate seed oil and hot flashes

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 in herbal medicine, hot flash, mind-body therapy | 2 comments

Let us go early to the vineyards to see, if the pomegranates are in bloom… Songs of Solomon 7:12

Pomegranates have had a place in the bible and many religions for centuries. A shrub fruit native to the Middle East, the pomegranate is valued in culinary and in complementary and folk medicine circles. As a fruit, there is none so tempting and tantalizing as the pomegranate – its seeds, both sweet and tart, are challenging to obtain and sensual in appearance.

Pomegranate seed oil is a rich source of phytoestrogens, plant-like compounds with estrogen properties that may influence estrogen receptors and modulators in the body. Its main components include  linolenic acid (an unsaturated fatty acid that is in the omega-3 family), punicic acid (a conjugated polyunsaturated acid) and ellagic acid (an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables). Studies in mice suggest that pomegranate oil may be helpful in lowering blood pressure, counteracting insulin resistance and preventing prostate, colon, lung and breast cancer. Because of its estrogenic properties, it may also be useful for menopausal symptoms. Or not.

A study that appears in the online version of Menopause explores the value of pomegranate seed oil for hot flashes in 81 women. Over a 12 week period, these women received either capsules, twice daily, that contained 30 mg pomegranate seed oil or placebo capsules containing sunflower oil.  All women participating in the study were in menopause for at least a year and reported having at least five hot flashes a day. None had taken hormone therapy within 3 months of starting the study, which of course, could affect results.

Women taking pomegranate oil experienced significant benefits, reducing the mean number of hot flashes by 4.3 a day. However, women taking placebo also reported significant reductions in hot flashes by as much as 2.5 per day. After 12 weeks, the pomegranate oil group had a reduction in hot flash frequency by as much as 38.7% compared to the placebo group, who had reductions by as much as 15.6%.  Based on these numbers, it would appear that pomegranate seed oil was indeed, significantly more effective than placebo, right? However, the researchers say that the total reduction in the frequency of hot flashes was no different between women taking pomegranate oil and those taking placebo. At the same time? When they tracked the women past this time period (up to 24 weeks), they found that the differences remained, suggesting that the effects of pomegranate oil may be sustainable and even take a longer treatment time to reach its full effect. This warrants looking into its potential with larger studies of longer duration.

One thing to mention is that it did appear that pomegranate seed oil also benefited other symptoms, in particular sleeping disorders, which is in line with other studies looking at isoflavones. And, no side effects or serious adverse events were reported.

So does it or doesn’t it? Undoubtedly, the placebo effect plays a role in all clinical studies, whether or not they are focused on pharmaceutical treatments or complementary therapies. Other studies of phytoestrogens have shown mixed results and a small number have met the criteria for scientific design. Still, there is a question about the role that time plays; many herbal medicines are well known to take some time before reaching full potency in the body in order to exert any sort of intended effect.

I say that the verdict on pomegranate seed oil isn’t in yet. It’s not the panacea we’d like to see but it also isn’t a flat out failure.

Meanwhile,  I love that I once heard chef Jose Andres suggest that the best way to access its seeds is to pat it like a baby’s bottom.

Stay tuned for more news on this jewel of the fruit world.



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Friday Folly: Hot Flash Hell

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in hot flash, humour | 0 comments

Hot flashes? Sometimes ya just gott laugh cuz it could always be worse, right?

Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

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Wednesday Bubble: Yes, you can!

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in aging, Inspiration | 6 comments

If you are anything like me, you may not always think you can, even though you are capable, smart and talented. And as women, we often find ourselves questioning our abilities (even though we are capable, smart and talented). For example, when was the last time you asked for a salary increase? Or defended yourself against a bully? Or took the bull by the horns and made that change that you’ve been telling yourself that you are going to make for a zillion months? Well? When?

No worries, because I’m not going to go all kumbaya on you. It’s not my style. But I would like to share my own ‘yes, you can’ moment, in hopes that it might motivate at least one person to take the first step they’ve been procrastinating about taking.

Let’s talk about taking the bull by the horns, aka, there’s no time like the present. First, a bit of context.

The last quarter of 2011 was a trying time for me. Business issues became all consuming, I was traveling a lot, sleeping a little, drinking too much and had swayed from diet. All of which add up to zero. And by the end of this time, I ended up a few pounds heavier, exhausted and truly out of balance. Not a great way to start a new year. And hence, my body revolted, forcing me not only to slow down but to stop entirely; I contracted a viral infection of the inner ear that resulted in terrible vertigo. And if you have ever had vertigo, you know that it ain’t pretty. Or fun.

This year, I have made a few promises to myself, mostly, to shed those couple of pounds that are hanging on, improve my eating habits and try the hardest to stay balanced. The latter part of this does not necessarily jive with my A type personality but so far it’s working. But more importantly? Yesterday I challenged myself to run a 10k at the gym. And I completed it in a fairly good time. Although once an avid runner, I have not run any admirable distance in decades. And it felt really good, AND dragged me out of the January doldrums.  Mostly though? I realized that I can; I can get back into a healthy groove, maintain some calm, rethink where I am in my life right now and if it’s where I want to be. And if not, I can define what’s next on the horizon and work towards making it happen. Because, I can kick it. I can run a 10K if I feel like it.

Guess what?  So can you.

Promise me that the next time that little voice in your head starts to talk you out of taking a step, even it’s a baby step, that you’ll pause and tell yourself “yes, I can.” And then just try…cuz:

Before this did you really know what life was,
Comprehend to the track for its wide cos,
Gettin mentions on the tip of the vibe buzz,
Rock ‘n’ roll to the beat of the funk fuzz,
Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug,
If you feel the urge to freak do the jitter bug,
Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug…

[Lyrics: A Tribe Called Quest]

Kumbaya? Maybe a wee little bit. Wednesday? No bubble this week. Just a little inspiration and whole lot of admiration..

Kick it.

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