National Institutes of Health announces 5 Botanical Research Centers

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Studies of the safety, effectiveness, and biological action of botanical products are major focuses for the five dietary supplement research centers selected to be jointly funded by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), two components of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH’s National Cancer Institute is co-supporting two of the five centers.

The competitive awards, approximately $1.5 million each per year for five years, were made to Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La.; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Missouri, Columbia; and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, N.C.

These five interdisciplinary and collaborative dietary supplement centers, known as the Botanical Research Centers (BRC) Program (http://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/BRCProgram), are expected to advance understanding of how botanicals may affect human health. “Eventually, the program may provide data that translates to new ways to reduce disease risk,” explained Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., director of ODS. “Until then, the research from these centers will help the public make informed decisions about botanical dietary supplements.”

“Botanicals are usually complex mixtures of many active constituents,” said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of NCCAM. “This complexity poses some unique research challenges that these centers are well positioned to address.”

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey shows that about 18 percent of adults reported taking a non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural product, spending about $15 billion on the purchase of these products. These products contain a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet other than vitamins and minerals, such as single herbs or mixtures.

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New Low-Estrogen Birth Control Patch Being Tested in Charlotte

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Report by Morgan Fogarty of Fox News

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – 23-year-old SouthPark resident Cameron Crye says remembering to take her birth control pill every day at the same time is a pain. Crye says, “Personally, my friends have to set an alarm on their phone to remind them to take it!”

The UNC Charlotte student says she’d like a more convenient form of birth control, like the patch, but she’s wary of the estrogen levels found in patches already on the market. “One of my friends that used the patch that was a regular dose found that she had a lot of acne and was nauseated,” says Crye.

The “regular” dose patches expose the women who use them to 60% more estrogen than the pill. That increase can also mean an increase in serious health issues, like blood clots, strokes or heart attacks.

A new, low dose birth control patch will be tested here, at Metrolina Medical Research Center in SouthPark, on about 15 patients over the course of 1 year. It’s part of a nation-wide study that will include 1,500 women.

“I think they’re looking for convenience and safety and we think this offers both,” says Dr. George Raad. Raad’s patients will be required to visit the clinic often so he can check on how the low dose patch is working for them. “These are all visits that are mandated by the FDA to assess safety, which is number one.”

The company making the new patch, Agile Therapeutics, did a study in 2008 and found more than 30% of women are not happy with their current contraceptive methods, citing cost, side effects and convenience as their most common concerns. That assessment rings true with co-ed Crye. “It’s definitely a pain,” she says.

Again, the study will last one year. After that, Dr. Raad says there will be a few more trials. He expects the low-dose patch to be on the market in about three years.

School health: The ABCs of staying healthy at school

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Do you know why school kids get sick so often? The best ways to prevent illness in the classroom? Get the answers to these school health questions and more.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Does it seem as if your child is sick all the time? In the early school years, your child’s immune system is put to the test. After all, young children in large groups are breeding grounds for the organisms that cause illness. Here’s why infectious illness is so common — and what your child can do to stay healthy in the classroom.

How infections spread

Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. All it takes is a single child to bring a virus to school for the spread to begin. Consider this common scenario — a child who has a cold coughs or sneezes in the classroom. The children sitting nearby inhale the infected respiratory droplets and the cold spreads. Or perhaps a child who has diarrhea uses the toilet and returns to the classroom without washing his or her hands. Illness-causing germs might spread from anything the sick child touches to other children who touch the same object and then put their fingers in their mouths.

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(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)