Monday, June 29, 2009

A Breath Mint Made From ... Coffee?

We all know why Starbucks puts boxes of breath mints close to the cash register. Your morning latte can create a startling aroma in your mouth, strong enough to startle your co-workers too.


But intriguing new research from Tel Aviv University by breath specialist Prof. Mel Rosenberg of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine finds that a coffee extract can inhibit the bacteria that lead to bad breath. New laboratory tests have shown that the extract prevents malodorous bacteria from making their presence felt — or smelt.

"Everybody thinks that coffee causes bad breath," says Prof. Rosenberg, "and it's often true, because coffee, which has a dehydrating effect in the mouth, becomes potent when mixed with milk, and can ferment into smelly substances."

But not always. "Contrary to our expectations, we found some components in coffee that actually inhibit bad breath," explains Prof. Rosenberg. The findings were presented last month to members of the International Society for Breath Odor Research in Germany by Yael Gov, a researcher in Prof. Rosenberg's laboratory.

A "taster's choice" for stopping bad bacteria

In the laboratory, the team monitored the bacterial odor production of coffee in saliva. In the study, three different brands of coffee were tested: the Israeli brand Elite coffee, Landwer Turkish coffee, and Taster's Choice. Prof. Rosenberg expected to demonstrate the malodor-causing effect of coffee in an in vitro saliva assay developed by Dr. Sarit Levitan in his laboratory. To his surprise, the extracts had the opposite effect.

"The lesson we learned here is one of humility," says Prof. Rosenberg. "We expected coffee would cause bad breath, but there is something inside this magic brew that has the opposite effect."

Prof. Rosenberg would love to isolate the bacterial-inhibiting molecule in order to reap the biggest anti-bacterial benefits from coffee. "It's not the raw extract we will use, he says, "but an active material within it." His latest discovery could be the foundation for an entirely new class of mouthwash, breath mints and gum. Purified coffee extract can be added to a breath mint to stop bacteria from forming, stopping bad breath at its source, instead of masking the smell with a mint flavor.

Source: Sciencedaily

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cord Blood

The blood that remains in your baby's umbilical cord after it has been cut is called cord blood, which is rich in stem cells. These valuable cells, which are genetically unique to your baby and family, can only be collected in the minutes after your baby's birth.

Stem Cells

Cord blood stem cells are the body's "master cells" and can regenerate into the cells that form all other tissues, organs, and systems in the body. They are showing promise in the treatment of brain injury and juvenile diabetes and have already been used to treat nearly 70 serious diseases, saving many lives.

Most families bank their baby's cord blood stem cells for peace of mind, knowing that these stem cells can be lifesaving to their baby and other family members. By saving your baby's cord blood you secure an invaluable medical resource that can help you protect your baby:

  • Your baby's cord blood stem cells may benefit your family as they have been used to treat nearly 70 serious diseases. And stem cells have been used for decades in lifesaving treatments for diseases including leukemia, other cancers, and blood disorders.
  • Cord blood is showing significant potential to treat conditions that have no cure today like juvenile diabetes and brain injury. This new field, called regenerative medicine, focuses on using stem cells to help repair damaged tissue and regenerate healthy cells.
  • You have helped to secure the best treatment options for your family. Using your own family's cord blood has been shown to significantly improve medical outcomes compared to using cord blood from someone outside your family.1

Take advantage of your one chance to save your baby's cord blood—immediately after birth.

Diseases treated by Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells are being used in promising treatments for brain injury, and there are many other areas of therapy in development, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Parkinson's
  • Brain injury/stroke
  • Juvenile diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Liver disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Orthopedic injury
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)

Source: Cord Blood Registry

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The New Allergy Zones

The spring allergy season has sprung—and wrought plenty of discomfort for the approximately 35 million Americans with seasonal allergies. Pollen may not be all that's making your eyes water and nose run, though. Surprising allergens lurk in unexpected places in your home and make you feel even worse. In fact, the list of sneeze-inducing culprits is long: animal dander, mold, dust, and dust mites (tiny insects that thrive on organic matter, primarily flakes of skin), as well as pollen carried into the house from outside. But these irritants are manageable—and getting a handle on them will help reduce your symptoms. We went to four top experts for the unexpected sources of your sneezes and some room-by-room tips for eliminating them.

Living room: Surprise allergy source: Pet-owning visitors


Friends with pets usually have animal dander on their clothes. When they visit, they can deposit this irritant on upholstered furniture—even if they don't bring Fido or Felix with them.

Solution: Vacuum your couches and padded chairs after pet-owning pals sit on them. Prevent the allergens from spewing right back out of the machine by using one with a HEPA filter (which traps tiny particles so they can't escape the dust bag).

Surprise allergy source: Couch pillows, throws, and stuffed toys


These items come into contact with skin, and that means tiny flakes that slough off and encourage dust mites. If your pet sits on, fetches, or plays with any of these, they're also covered with animal dander.

Solution: Tumble the items in the dryer on high for 10 to 15 minutes each week. (If this will damage the material, clean instead according to the manufacturer's instructions.)

Bedroom Surprise allergy source: Shelves


It's not just your novel's plot twists that are causing your eyes to tear up and your nose to run. You can also blame the dust that collects on books and other shelf-dwellers, including framed photographs and mementos. Books can also contribute to indoor mold problems, especially in humid conditions.

Solution: Keep shelves of all kinds, including bookshelves, away from the bed, or banish them from the bedroom entirely. Place trinkets behind glass doors so they don't collect dust. Clean surfaces and vacuum bedroom floors at least once a week.

Surprise allergy source: Bed pillows

bed pillow

The warmth and humidity of your body encourage dust mites to grow in bed pillows, no matter what type of stuffing they have.

Solution: Either trade old pillows for new ones annually, or encase pillows in allergy-proof covers that you wash once or twice a month in hot water (follow the manufacturer's instructions). The most allergy-resistant, comfortable cases are made of tightly woven fabric that's impermeable to dust mites—and feels good to the touch.

Bathroom Surprise allergy source: The floor mat

Trapped moisture in the bath mat causes dust mites and mold to thrive.

Solution: Choose a washable mat and clean it weekly. After a shower or steamy bath, hang it up and open a window or run the fan.

Kitchen Surprise allergy source: The refrigerator door seal

As you transfer food in and out of the refrigerator, moisture, crumbs, and spills can build up in the crevices of the door seal and encourage mold to flourish there.

Solution: Wipe the seal with a mixture of mold-zapping bleach and water weekly; use a cotton swab to get into the grooves and clean them thoroughly.

Surprise allergy source: Cooking steam

Steam cooking

Steam wafts from pots and pans as you cook and settles in places you may not clean daily, causing mold to build up. Spots where dampness may land include walls, ceilings, cupboard doors, upper shelves, and areas hidden behind large appliances.

Solution: Run the stove's exhaust fan to vent cooking moisture—not just smells—out of the house. If mold does appear, eliminate it with a solution of bleach and water.

Laundry room Surprise allergy source: Damp clothes

Damp clothes

Mold and bacteria can develop on damp, unwashed clothing that sits around for days before it's laundered, as well as on clean items left in the washer tub for more than a few hours.

Solution: Don't let moist, dirty laundry build up, and dry freshly washed items ASAP. Here's a bonus idea: Use liquid detergent instead of powder, which can produce irritating dust, worsening your allergy symptoms.

All around the house Surprise allergy source: Your hair and clothes

When you arrive home after spending time outdoors, you carry in dust and pollen on your shoes and clothes and in your hair (long hair and loose hairstyles tend to trap more irritants than short or tightly bound strands).

Solution: When outside, cover your hair with a hat or scarf. When you get home, remove your head covering and shoes inside the door, change into clothes that you wear only indoors, and shampoo and dry your hair. Wash your comb and brush weekly to keep them free of any irritants they've picked up.

Surprise allergy source: Plants


Damp soil can support the development of mold, and if you spill occasionally as you water, you can encourage growths in any carpet or curtains you happen to hit.

Solution: Give away or toss out plants if mold and dust cause you to have severe symptoms. If you choose to keep the plants instead, place the pots on tile and well away from curtains. Bonus tip: A layer of pebbles or small stones placed on top of the soil will prevent the release of mold spores that may be growing in the soil.

Surprise allergy source: The fish tank

fish tank

Mold grows on parts of the tank or bowl that are out of the water but nevertheless remain damp. Carelessly strewn fish food also helps mold develop and can nourish a dust mite colony.

Solution: Use a rag to dry off above-water tank parts daily. When you feed the fish, make sure the food lands in the water, not on the tabletop or floor.