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CAM Use Keeps on Climbing

According to the latest federal survey on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) utilization in the U.S., nearly four in 10 adults (38.3 percent) and one in nine children (11.8 percent) use CAM, and musculoskeletal conditions constitute the number-one reason for visiting a CAM provider. In fact, “back pain or problem” and “neck pain or problem” rank first and second in terms of conditions for which adults use CAM therapies (17.1 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively), while “back or neck pain” is the second most common reason for child CAM use (6.7 percent of children). This marked the first time CAM use among children has been evaluated by the government.

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Critical Research

Featured Study:

Blueberry-induced changes in spatial working memory correlate with changes in hippocampal CREB phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels.

Williams CM, El Mohsenb MA, Vauzourbet D, et al.

Phytochemical-rich foods have been shown to be effective at reversing age-related deficits in memory in both animals and humans. We show that a supplementation with a blueberry diet (2% w/w) for 12 weeks improves the performance of aged animals in spatial working memory tasks. This improvement emerged within 3 weeks and persisted for the remainder of the testing period. Memory performance correlated well with the activation of cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) and increases in both pro- and mature levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus. Changes in CREB and BDNF in aged and blueberry-supplemented animals were accompanied by increases in the phosphorylation state of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK1/2), rather than that of calcium calmodulin kinase (CaKMII and CaCMKIV) or protein kinase A. Furthermore, age and blueberry supplementation were linked to increases in the activation state of Akt, mTOR, and the levels of Arc.Arg3.1 in the hippocampus, suggesting that pathways involved in de novo protein synthesis may be involved. Although causal relationships cannot be made among supplementation, behavior, and biochemical parameters, the measurement of anthocyanins and flavanols in the brain following blueberry supplementation may indicate that changes in spatial working memory in aged animals are linked to the effects of flavonoids on the ERK-CREB-BDNF pathway.

Source: Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 [E-pub ahead of print].

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