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Cranberries and Gojo Beans Research

Sue Brown is a Lecturer at James Cook University and editorial board member of Geriaction has written us an article which will get you thinking. 

Sue's interest in care of the older adult was ignited when she arrived in Australia over ten years ago.  Her recently published book, "Health and illness in the older adult", for undergraduate nursing students exposes topics which often go unnoticed in mainstream literature. 

A greengrocer section coming

 to your local pharmacy soon.  

I was snuffling at the pharmacy the other day when the computer said ‘no’. 

No, I could not have the pseudoephedrine tablets for my cold, not, I quickly hasten to add, because I was setting up an illicit drug laboratory but because I was on a very small dose of an anti hypertensive drug.
 

The contraindications known to occur with this drug combination has prematurely ended the life of many a lab rat, and I am indeed fortunate that the pharmacist assistant was alert enough to prevent me buying this over the counter drug. To soften the blow however, you will be pleased to know, I could at the bargain price of $14.00, buy chocolate coated Gojo beans which are so high in anti oxidants as to lengthen my bout of sinusitis by extending my life inextricably!

                           
  
The lure of this enticing, ‘feel good’, ‘do good’, lolly can be partially attributed to Dr. Cao of the Baltimore National Institute, who, for more than a decade has researched the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of different foods. By measuring the antioxidant capacities specifically in berries, ORAC has inadvertently spawned a health dollar hungry market for every fruit grower and naturalist in the world. This has now put the greengrocer, and
  confectioner along with the mass of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in the pharmacy, and this maybe time to issue a cautionary warning.
 
 

Both dark chocolate and Gojo beans have been found to have high ORAC counts.  The oxidative process is the negative effect created in the body by "free radicals" and has been shown to increase the progression of aging and disease, antioxidants counteract these radicals but the jury is out as to whether they actually increase life span or repair damage allowing for optimum potential of an individual lifespan.

The jury is also out as to whether separating the active ingredient from a food source as a whole will work in isolation or whether it is the active ingredient in combination with other constituents that does the work. 

Cranberries are a case in point, beside a respectable ORAC count there are suggestions they may act as a urinary antiseptic.  Certain studies suggest in younger women there may be a therapeutic effect particularly if a bladder infection is caused by the ecoli organism but only the cranberry juice, the efficacy of the tablets has not be proven.

 

Yet cranberry tablets are actively promoted as alternatives in many health specific outlets.

Concerning the pseudoephedrine tablets and other drugs in the regulated pharmaceutical stable,  there are codes of conduct and rules  set down to ensure public safety but in the case of CAM there are no such regulations deemed necessary or in place. Furthermore the average consumer is increasingly advised by pharmacist assistants who need no regulation or license to practice. 

The discussions therefore centre around a number of issues; should the market driven growth in CAM see increasing interaction between CAM practitioners and pharmacists; do ‘medicines’ untried and unproven through rigors of control and research belong in an outlet dedicated to dispensing western allopathic medicine (WAM); or is the lack of regulation in this area appealing to the consumer who wants the opportunity to seek their own response to their health but within a one stop health shop?

By questioning where the chocolate coated GoJo beans fit into the medical turmoil, my concern is certainly not generate  a further layer of control but to ensure the public can make informed choice cutting through the welter of gobbledygook emanating from the media.

                   
In other words, assisting the consumer in the decision making process concerning the unproven, the lacking in evidence and the pure charlatans in the so called
CAM market, and dare I mention, in the WAM market too.
 

If we can be so prescriptive concerning pseudoephedrine where are the warnings concerning some CAM preparations, natural does not necessarily mean safe if used in combination with other tablets or in the presence of certain diseases. Equally price is not an indicator of quality one look at the ORAC tables (available on the net) and there are myriad of cheaper and easier ways to get your antioxidants. Where as you may take a more jaundiced view of your health shop in the high street, your pharmacy has a far great of aura of trust and professionalism and we need to ensure that is maintained.

It suits the mainstream medical model to have a them (CAM) and us (WAM) scenario but whether it assists the consumer is up for debate, increasingly there are too many vested interests in allopathic medicine, concerning, equipment, drugs and control to ensure an equitable playing field and certainly CAM practitioners are too diverse a group and are hampered by unprofessional players in the field.

Polypharmacy, however remains an issue not just from WAM perspective but from all perspectives and we need to develop guidelines around the use of all ingested substances claiming efficacy. 

So I cannot subscribe to lollies being sold at inflated prices in trusted retail outlets adding to the already over subscribed formally and informally prescribed tablet market. If pharmacists are to pursue a health maintenance model then they probably need to include music, paint and flowers to their stock items or stay within the field of their discipline.

As for my sinusitis while wandering opened mouthed round the supermarket I espied garlic and horseradish tablets and whisked them home and yes, they worked for me but I do not know what the contraindications are concerning my other medications but I do know the lollies were cheaper.    

The author welcomes further discussion on this subject.
sue.brown@jcu.edu.au

Gigi ! | Friday, January 18, 2008 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink | back to top

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