As scientists probe into alternative remedies, they are coming up with some surprising and rewarding therapies.
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day keeps diabetes away. It really does by significantly reducing blood sugar levels. Discovered accidentally by scientists at the USDA's Human Nutrition Laboratory, just stirring your tea with a cinnamon stick may help people with high levels of blood sugar who are unaware of it.
Cinnamon contains a compound that mimics insulin and activates insulin receptors. Volunteers were given cinnamon in capsules after meals. Not only did the spice lower blood sugar but it lowered the LDL or 'bad' cholesterol as well.
And if you drink, you may want to add some curry to your diet. One study in rats found that cur cumin, the ingredient in turmeric and curry powder that gives it its distinctive color, protects the liver against damage by alcohol.
The scientists do not yet recommend it as an antidote. Drinking less is the best way to protect the liver according to the researchers in Helsinki, Finland.
This same ingredient, cur cumin, appears to mend the defect of cystic fibrosis-at least in mice. Scientists at Yale and at the Sick Kids Institute in Canada found that cur cumin corrected the defect that causes the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract of people with cystic fibrosis to become clogged with mucus.
While too early to say if cur cumin will be used as a treatment for CF, it is encouraging to find a compound that appears to help and is safe for human consumption.
A new use for chili powder has given a whole new meaning to the term hot wings, according to some wits The stuff in chili powder that gives it the bite, capsaicin, may help in the fight against contamination of chicken by disease producing bacteria.
When the chickens were feed doses of the powerful substance, they were less likely to be contaminated with salmonella after slaughtering. Apparently, the hot stuff causes a slight irritation in the intestinal track of the chickens. This stimulates their immune system to kill off many of the disease producing bacteria in the gut.
It is hoped that non-toxic, pre-seasoned chickens may replace the reliance on antibiotics in chicken feed.