Curcumin and saffron are effective for the treatment of depression and in reducing anxiety

Studies have found  many people with Depression have chronic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medicine could be an effective treatment alternative to generally ineffective anti-depressant medications.

A recent study reported that Curcumin (from Tumeric) and/or saffron relieves the symptoms of depression including anxiety , now often experience by people suffering from depression.

Curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory properties and increase levels of BDNF  – an important  protein found in neuron cells that protects the cells from premature death and also improves their function.

But before you rush to the pharmacy or health food store to buy some Curcumin supplements consult an expert who knows about bioavailability of the supplement or see your local herbalist or Integrative heath practitioner.


Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron/curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study


Several studies have supported the antidepressant effects of curcumin (from the spice turmeric) and saffron for people with major depressive disorder. However, these studies have been hampered by poor designs, small sample sizes, short treatment duration, and similar intervention dosages. Furthermore, the antidepressant effects of combined curcumin and saffron administration are unknown.


In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 123 individuals with major depressive disorder were allocated to one of four treatment conditions, comprising placebo, low-dose curcumin extract (250 mg b.i.d.), high-dose curcumin extract (500 mg b.i.d.), or combined low-dose curcumin extract plus saffron (15 mg b.i.d.) for 12 weeks. The outcome measures were the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology self-rated version (IDS-SR30) and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).


The active drug treatments (combined) were associated with significantly greater improvements in depressive symptoms compared to placebo (p=.031), and superior improvements in STAI-state (p<.001) and STAI-trait scores (p=.001). Active drug treatments also had greater efficacy in people with atypical depression compared to the remainder of patients (response rates of 65% versus 35% respectively, p=.012). No differences were found between the differing doses of curcumin or the curcumin/saffron combination.


Investigations with larger sample sizes are required to examine the efficacy of differing doses of curcumin and saffron/curcumin combination. Its effects in people with atypical depression also require examination in larger scale studies.


Active drug treatments comprising differing doses of curcumin and combined curcumin/saffron were effective in reducing depressive and anxiolytic symptoms in people with major depressive disorder.

Men still suffering debilitating sexual and urinary dysfunction more than 12 years after prostate cancer treatment

Jang et al (2017) conducted one of the first long term follow-up on Prostate cancer (PCa) treatment 12 to 18 years after treatment. The study reveals lasting debilitating  sides effects for prostatectomy and radiation treatments.

The short side effects (2 years) for PCa treatment is well documented. However the long term quality  of men’s lives and the lasting side effects from treatments has not been reviewed until now. This is vital information for men with low to intermediate risk localised prostate cancer and are considering treatment over active monitoring or “watchful waiting”.

Highlights from Study

At 12 to 18 years after treatment, patients’ median ages were 75, 82, and 77 for RP (Radical Prostatectomy), EBRT (radiation beam therapy), and BT (Brachytherapy), respectively.

  • Patients urinary  and sexual function declined over time for all men in this study
  • Patients who underwent RP had significantly worse symptoms rating in the urinary incontinence  and sexual function over a decade later.
  • Patients that underwent EBRT had significantly worse current scores compared to baseline in the urinary incontinence and  urinary irritation/obstruction , bowel function and sexual function.
  • Patients who had BT had significantly worse current scores compared to baseline in the urinary incontinence  urinary irritation/obstruction and sexual function.
  • When comparing treatment modalities, change scores in the urinary incontinence domain were significantly worse for RP than for BT  and change scores in the urinary irritation/obstruction domain were significantly worse for EBRT or BT than for RP.

There were no significant differences between treatment groups in the bowel function domain, and all treatment groups experienced similarly large differences in sexual function scores.



Abstract Definitive treatment for prostate cancer includes radical prostatectomy (RP), external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), and brachytherapy (BT). The different side effect profiles of these options are crucial factors for patients and clinicians when deciding between treatments. This study reports long-term health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for patients in their second decade after treatment for prostate cancer. We used a validated survey to assess urinary, bowel, and sexual function and HRQOL in a prospective cohort of patients diagnosed with localized prostate cancer 14–18 years previously. We report and compare the outcomes of patients who were initially treated with RP, EBRT, or BT. Of 230 eligible patients, the response rate was 92% (n = 211) and median follow-up was 14.6 years. Compared to baseline, RP patients had significantly worse urinary incontinence and sexual function, EBRT patients had worse scores in all domains, and BT patients had worse urinary incontinence, urinary irritation/obstruction, and sexual function. When comparing treatment groups, RP patients underwent larger declines in urinary continence than did BT patients, and EBRT and BT patients experienced larger changes in urinary irritation/obstruction. Baseline functional status was significantly associated with long-term function for urinary obstruction and bowel function domains. This is one of the few prospective reports on quality of life for prostate cancer patients beyond 10 years, and adds information about the late consequences of treatment choices. These data may help patients make informed decisions regarding treatment choice based on symptoms they may experience in the decades ahead.



Jang JW, Drumm MR, Efstathiou JA, Paly JJ, Niemierko A, Ancukiewicz M, Talcott
JA, Clark JA, Zietman AL. Long-term quality of life after definitive treatment
for prostate cancer: patient-reported outcomes in the second posttreatment
decade. Cancer Med. 2017 Jul;6(7):1827-1836. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1103. Epub 2017
May 31. PubMed PMID: 28560840; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5504320.

Information empowers Men’s health: – Are you aware of all your treatment options for low-intermediate prostate cancer?

You’ve been diagnosed with Prostate cancer , but before you decide to have a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) do you understand all of the treatment options?

After decades of over treatment we now better understand the  treatments and non -treatments available for Low to intermediate risk localised prostate cancer (PCa).

However sadly new research and approaches can take years to be implemented despite a case for change. To avert the risk of making  ill-informed decisions  it makes sense to  ask our oncologists lots of questions and be informed about all the risks and consequences of our choices in treating PCa. However they might not be aware of recent studies and evidence that would open up more choices to you. If there’s even a slight risk we are receiving outdated advice it could result in regrettable outcome we can’t reverse.  To avoid this we can  do our own independent research and consult more than one specialist for a second opinion.  Here’s the latest information of treatments for localised low to intermediate risk PCa.


In a 10 year UK trial, three groups of men were assigned to either surgical removal of the prostate (553 men), radiation treatment (545 men) or active monitoring (545 men). After ten years, the total number of deaths due to any cause was 55, 55 and 59, respectively in each group.

Thus 90% of men were still alive after ten years, including those who did not receive any radical intervention. Although surgery delayed the development of metastases (or secondary cancers) in a small number of men, the number of deaths definitively attributable to prostate cancer in each of the groups was low, only three, four and seven deaths respectively. So the odds of dying specifically from prostate cancer in the first ten years is of the order of 1%.

Age is also a factor in treatment options. If your life expectancy is less than 10 years the advice now is do nothing because you are more likely to die from something else other than PCa.

However , as clear from the UK Trial, active monitoring / surveillance results in the same outcome as surgery or radiation treatment for localised PCa.

Source (Ian Haines, Professor, AMREP Department of Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne & Senior Medical Oncologist and Palliative Care Physician, Melbourne Oncology Group, Cabrini Haematology and Oncology Centre, Wattletree Road, Malvern, Monash University2017)

According to John Hopkins School of Medicine Radiation beam therapy is as effective as  radical prostatectomy for the treatment of low to intermediate risk localised prostate cancer (PCa).

Treatment Side Effects.

The side effects from surgery are more severe than radiation and often include permanent erectile  dysfunction (ED). About 80% of men have ED at 6 months and at 5 years and also potentially years of urinary incontinence  – 50% of men still need a pad at 6 months, 20% of men maybe wearing a pad at 5 years. 

For radiation therapy, incontinence is an infrequent problem. “Approximately 5% of men use a pad at 6 months after radiation therapy and that’s steady at about 5 years. A potential late side effect for urinary function can be the development of a stricture at 10 years or more after radiation, causing it difficulty in urination. After external beam radiation therapy approximately 75% of men have erectile dysfunction at 6 months and at 5 years.  ” Ken Panta, Professor of Urology and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

What is localised PCa? –

Tumor has not spread outside the prostate.

The tumor can be on both sides or one side of the prostate but  has not breached the prostate  or entered the seminal vesicles or lymph nodes.

What is low risk PCa?

Low-risk prostate cancer is T1-T2a, Gleason score 6, PSA less than 10.

What is intermediate risk localised PCa?

Clinically Localised: Intermediate-Risk Prostate Cancer find as T2b-T2c or Gleason score 7 or PSA 10-20 ng/ml. The or here is very important, it means that a man is classified as having Intermediate-Risk Prostate Cancer by any one of these criteria. T2b refers to a cancer that is more than half of only one side of the prostate. T2c is cancer in both sides of the prostate.

What is active monitoring/surveillance? 

Active surveillance is when the patient choose no treatment and regular checks , which may includes all or some of these:  digital examinations , PSA tests and Biopsies  , ultra sound, MRI.





Information empowers men’s health: – Latest research shows surgery for Early Stage Prostate Cancer Doesn’t Save Lives

Ian Haines
Monash University
July 31, 2017

From the 1980s, when prostate screening became available, many men over 40 were diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer even though they may not have had any symptoms. The word cancer understandably strikes fear into the hearts of many, and most would assume the best course of action would be to have the cancer removed, whatever the side effects may be.

But impotence and incontinence are no small side effects, especially when you consider, as two new studies have done, removing the cancer isn’t necessarily the best option, and the cancer may not in fact require treatment at all.

.Most prostate cancers take decades to exit the prostate, and most men will usually die with, but not from, prostate cancer. Autopsy studies reveal prostate cancer in up to 40% of men in their forties and 65% in their sixties, but a much smaller figure of 3-4% of Australian men actually die of prostate cancer at a median age of 82.

Two recent clinical trials undermine the categorisation of prostate cancer as a death sentence. They are unambiguous in their findings and seismic in their implications. Both found men with early stage abnormalities of the prostate who do not undergo surgery or radiation treatment, but whose condition is monitored for any progression of the cancer, live just as long as men who opted for complete removal of the prostate and now live with its immediate consequences, including incontinence, intimacy issues, bowel problems and intervention regret.

The hard evidence

In a UK trial, three groups of men were assigned to either surgical removal of the prostate (553 men), radiation treatment (545 men) or active monitoring (545 men). After ten years, the total number of deaths due to any cause was 55, 55 and 59, respectively in each group.

Thus 90% of men were still alive after ten years, including those who did not receive any radical intervention. Although surgery delayed the development of metastases (or secondary cancers) in a small number of men, the number of deaths definitively attributable to prostate cancer in each of the groups was low, only three, four and seven deaths respectively. So the odds of dying specifically from prostate cancer in the first ten years is of the order of 1%.

In a second study from the US published last week, two groups of men were assigned to either surgical removal of the prostate (364 men) or active monitoring (367 men). After nearly 20 years of follow up, the number of deaths due to any cause was 223 and 245 respectively in each group. So once again nearly the same number of men in each group were still alive after 20 years.

Surgery did not prevent death any more than active monitoring. Strikingly, the number of deaths definitively attributable to prostate cancer in the two groups was only 18 and 22 respectively. This means the odds of dying specifically from prostate cancer in the first 20 years after a cancer diagnosis from a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test was about 5% for the surgical group and 6% for the active monitoring group.

The survival from prostate cancer is so high it’s not a question of deciding which treatment is best, but whether any early radical treatment is required at all. The current position has been clearly articulated by the Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society Dr Otis Brawley, an expert on prostate cancer screening. He points out aggressive PSA screening and treatment has resulted in more than one million American men undergoing needless treatment.

This is not to mention that patients who have undergone surgery are four times more likely to require absorbent pads for incontinence and three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction. These are not issues that are routinely highlighted.

The future

The latest DNA research has had minimal impact on how to tell whether an early stage prostatecancer will grow slowly or whether it will become aggressive and spread outside the prostate, and lead to death. The current evidence is the future behaviour of any cancer is determined very early, and diagnosing it early and actively monitoring its progress will have no effect on the outcome.

The key problem in searching for genetic and DNA based markers is that most pre-clinical studies focus on human prostate cancer cells in dishes, or in mice. This is far removed from cells growing in a patient. Mice are not small humans and their prostates, hormonal balances, diet and genetics are quite different from our own.

Similarly, while MRI scanning means we can find sites in a prostate gland that are abnormal, we can’t yet distinguish between the potentially dangerous and the indolent cell populations. More research is needed to develop better screening techniques.

The current implications

For the moment, the first step must be to educate doctors so they can provide full disclosure to any patient of the results of these two trials. The second step is that in speaking to their own doctors about possible treatment options, patients should be active in asking them about the most up-to-date evidence. Surgery is a big step to take for any condition.

Similar to countless past treatments which the evidence has made redundant – such as lobotomy for mental illness and stomach surgery for ulcers – it’s now clear radical surgery removing the prostate should not be the go-to option.

Ian Haines, Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, AMREP Department of Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne & Senior Medical Oncologist and Palliative Care Physician, Melbourne Oncology Group, Cabrini Haematology and Oncology Centre, Wattletree Road, Malvern, Monash University

Is working in an office really as unhealthy as smoking?

Well yes sitting down for eight hours a day is slowly killing you and shortening your lifespan equivalent to being a smoker.

Sitting for hours without any activity in the office and then coming home and slumping in front of the television is a ticket to an early grave so the experts are telling us. Good news is physical activity doesn’t mean high intensity training in the gym or running 5km every day. It means movement. but with some exertion e.g. do some chair squats, lunges, chair push-ups,  – who cares what your coworkers think they’ll be pushing up daises whilst you are reaping the benefits of a your office exercises.

Why not walk to a cafe that is a 10 min round trip , find some stairs and walk up and down them 5 times. Do something for a few minutes until you can feel your heart pumping.  This is more or less what the research is saying: do something for 5 minutes every hour in the office. I recommend  including real exercise in your weekly routine where you break a sweat and get your heart racing to 70% of your maximum. However the good news is that recent research says low intensity  frequent activity that adds up to an hour of movement seems to cancel out the deadly consequences of not moving at all.

Here’s some highlights from the article and a link to it

Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to combat the “deadly” risk of modern working life, a major study has found.

Sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent, the study of more than one million adults published in The Lancet found, with sedentary lifestyles now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking and causing more deaths than obesity.

Workers who spend several hours each day at their desk should change their routine to include a five-minute break every hour, as well as take exercise at lunchtimes and evenings, the study recommended.

An hour of brisk walking or cycling spread over a day was enough to combat the dangers of eight hours sitting in the office, the researchers said.

Current public health advice recommends just half this level of activity – yet almost half of women and one third of men fail to achieve even this.

Prof Ulf Ekelund, the lead scientist, from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, said: “We found that at least one hour of physical activity per day, for example brisk walking or cycling, eliminates the association between sitting time and death.”

He added: “You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym, it’s OK doing some brisk walking maybe in the morning, during your lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day but you need to do at least one hour.”

Researchers said the typical modern routine of spending a day in front of a computer, followed by an evening slumped in front of the television was proving fatal.

Older Men still being over tested for prostate Cancer – An NYT article

Did you know in USA it is recommended that men over 75 do not have prostate PSA testing. Why? Because even if you have prostate cancer(a non aggressive type) it is so slow to progress  you will most likely  die from something else. Read this short article for more information on why testing in older men is not recommended.


If you can’t access this article, let me know and I will forward it to you.

Five life-changing reasons to loose your belly fat

Five life-changing reasons to loose your belly fat

Belly fat gets a bad rap, but why? Well the fat around your belly is not  inert. Every fat cell is busy communicating with the rest of our body reinforcing a poor state of health that has implications on your future and what you die from. Belly fat causes low grade inflammation; it produces hormones that affect appetite and fat storage,  it impairs  energy metabolism  and belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, depressed mood and chronic stress to name a few. A little belly fat is probably ok, but how much belly fat is considered a health risk?



The Waist to hip ratio

The waist to hip ratio (WHR) has become a strong indicator of predicting a number of chronic debilitating illnesses including Type II diabetes, depression , chronic stress,  heart disease and increase your risk of many cancers. Evidence suggests the WHR is more reliable way to predict chronic disease like depression and type II diabetes. Another way to look at WHR is that
people with “apple-shaped” bodies (with more weight around the waist) face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies who carry more weight around the hips. For women this means they can be less concerned about their thighs and buttocks , but keeping the belly fat off is critical for a long healthy life.

The currently accepted guidelines for a healthy WHR and therefore better health and longevity is as follows: –

Men who have a WHR of more than 0.9  and Women who have a WHR ratio of more than 0.8 are at greater risk of chronic diseases and a shorter life.


So to recap there are many reasons to loose that excess belly fat, here’s five big one

  1. You are less likely to feel depressed, stressed or anxious.
  2. You are less likely to to develop Type II diabetes
  3. You reduce you risk of many cancers
  4. Your fertility is improved significantly
  5. You will live longer, have a greater vitality and have a healthier heart.

Do you think holistically about your health?

Looking at your health holistically emphasises the important of the whole body and the interdependence of its parts. This perspective changes our how we talk about ourselves. Instead of saying body and mind, we can say mind-body accepting there is no separation of these two concepts. Some might say they think holistically about their health when in fact they  still  see their  body and mind as separate. Most of us accept distress and mood affect our health, but we might overlook that the internal state of our body can affect our mind,  our feelings and behaviour. The Gut-brain-axis  is an example of the interdependency of many life-sustaining systems that are influenced  by the  constant bi-directional communication between our gut and our brain. It is a reminder we are not in control of our bodies , our bodies are often in control of our minds.

Here’s a some examples of how our body affects our mind/brain.

When you get a cold or flu , the immune system sends messages (cytokines) to the brain to tell you are sick .The brain then does numerous things to protect the body from infection including turning up  the body temperature to create a fever to kill the virus. The brain activates many immune functions  and research has shown these cause behaviours that are characteristic with feeling depressed, for example: – withdrawing from people, fatigue, irritability, and feeling flat.

There are thousands of species of bacteria in your body and some thrive on certain types of food and will perish when deprived of its favourite diet. Bacteria cause cravings for certain foods that it needs. So is it you who craves sugary drinks or your tiny friends/foes? When you change your diet your bacteria population changes and the craving for food will change. When I find some good studies on this I will share them with you.

Food and drink can make you feel anxious, restless, irritable and even depressed. Your gut is constantly communicating to your brain about how it is.  When your gut is under attack from toxic substances from processed foods or drinks it informs the brain so you are aware you have  something inside that probably shouldn’t have. This process activates the immune system and stress system to protect you from the toxic chemicals. These changes affect your mood. There is  research that up to 60% of people who are diagnosed with a gut complaint (e.g. IBS, IBD, SIBO, Gastritis) also suffer from mood disorders (anxiety, depression, OCD). This is more than coincidence. Our guts produce many hormones that influence our mood. One prime example if serotonin . An hormone associated with the brain, which is true to some extend , but serotonin is key to gut motility and most of it is produced in our gastrointestinal tract. When our gut doesn’t work well it can have a profound affect on production of serotonin and this affects our mood.

Don’t underestimate the profound influence your gastrointestinal tract has on how you feel. The reward for giving up junk food is that you are going to feel happier and have more energy.








Australia has a health crisis.

This country has a  crisis of chronic preventable disease and chronic unresolved stress. Here one in two people are overweight or obese. There are almost a million people with Type II diabetes and two million  estimated to be pre-diabetic  There are eight million Australians are predicted to be diagnosed with bowel cancer, a preventable condition. There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. This number is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than five years. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050. One million Australia have depression and another two million have a diagnosis of anxiety. Antibiotics are failing, some common bacteria has mutated and can now resist current medications. The top most prescribed 10 medications  in 2014 were for high cholesterol, hypertension,  pain and GERD (stomach acid reflux, heart burn , bloating).

The cost of medicine is increasing. “Expenditure on high cost drugs on the PBS is rising and, to date, it shows no sign of slowing. The growing incidence of diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer’s disease is likely to contribute to increased expenditure as new treatments become available.”  (

Most people in Australia work more than 40 hours a week often skipping a decent meal and  missing essential nutrients.  One and half million Australians don’t get a decent nights  sleep suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders.  We are subjected to repeated stressors at work and at home and we have little time to truly relax and switch off. We soothe ourselves with junk food, alcohol and recreational drugs.

Despite all the diets people still gain the weight they lost. We are nutritional deficient,  we consume on average 30 tea spoons of sugar a day hidden in diet foods and health snacks, and take-away food. It is estimated as little as  2% of Australians Eat Enough Fruit And Veggies, and even if we did the vegetables and fruit found in our supermarkets   lack the nutrients we need because the over-farmed soil lacks the required minerals. Many people don’t get sufficient exercise. We sit down on average 12 hours or more a day. Sitting down for this long  is now said to be more deadly than smoking.

So what about you? 

Are you getting sufficient sleep?

Do you feel fatigued and stressed?

Are you in pain?

Do you exercise enough?

Do you and your family know how to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy and prevent disease?

Do you know the side effects of your medications?

What are you long term health goals?

How long do you want to live?