18 January 2002 News Update
PINE EXTRACT HELPS DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
An ancient Chinese medicine extracted from pine trees may protect against digestive disorders such as ulcers, heartburn and acid reflux, according to scientists.
Dr Jeff Pearson and a team at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in north-east England found that ecabet sodium, a white powder derived from pine resin, had a range of benefits.
In laboratory experiments on gastric juices taken from patients, the powder reduced pepsin activity - a known cause of ulcers - by up to 78 per cent. It also caused the mucus lining the stomach to thicken, providing extra protection against corrosive gastric juices.
As well as that, ecabet sodium was found to be a natural antiseptic, reducing the survival time of ulcer-causing bacteria in the stomach. The powder also had a significant effect on acid reflux, also known as reflux oesophagitis.
This occurs when gastric juices leave the stomach and travel up the gullet, attacking its sensitive lining. While most people experience the problem occasionally, there are many acute sufferers who need drugs to control the disorder.
Reflux oesophagitis, which causes heartburn and is thought to increase the risk of oesophagus cancer, is common among people with peptic ulcers or those who have a high level of pepsin activity. It may also be caused by a malfunction of the valve between the stomach and gullet.
Dr Pearson said: "Ecabet sodium may be very useful for long-term treatment of reflux oesophagitis in patients whose condition has been stabilised by conventional drugs. Doctors often prescribe drugs which stop acid production by the stomach to control reflux oesophagitis.
But some medical experts are worried there may be side-effects on patients who take the drug daily for many years.''
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