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1.  A case of anaphylaxis to peppermint 
Anaphylaxis, a form of IgE mediated hypersensitivity, arises when mast cells and possibly basophils are provoked to secrete mediators with potent vasoactive and smooth muscle contractile activities that evoke a systemic response. We report a case of IgE mediated anaphylaxis to peppermint (Mentha piperita) in a male shortly after sucking on a candy.
Case presentation
A 69 year old male developed sudden onset of lip and tongue swelling, throat tightness and shortness of breath within five minutes of sucking on a peppermint candy. He denied lightheadedness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, or urticaria. He took 25 mg of diphenhydramine, but his symptoms progressed to onset of cough, wheeze and difficulty with talking and swallowing. He was rushed to the nearest emergency department, where he was treated with intramuscular epinephrine, antihistamines and steroids. On history, he reported recent onset of mouth itchiness and mild tongue and lip swelling after using Colgate peppermint toothpaste. He denied previous history of asthma, allergic rhinitis, food or drug allergies. His past medical history was remarkable for hypercholesterolemia, gastroesophageal reflux and gout. He was on simvastatin, omeprazole, aspirin, and was carrying a self-injectable epinephrine device. He moved to current residence three years ago and cultivated mint plants in his backyard. He admitted to develop nasal congestion, cough and wheeze when gardening. Physical examination was unremarkable apart from slightly swollen pale inferior turbinates. Skin prick test (SPT) was strongly positive to a slurry of peppermint candy and fresh peppermint leaf, with appropriate controls. Same tests performed on five healthy volunteers yielded negative results. Skin testing to common inhalants including molds and main allergenic foods was positive to dust mites. Strict avoidance of mint containing items was advised. Upon reassessment, he had removed mint plants from his garden which led to resolution of symptoms when gardening.
IgE mediated anaphylaxis to peppermint is rare. This case demonstrates a systemic reaction to a commonly consumed item, incapable of triggering anaphylaxis in the far majority of the population, yet causing a severe episode for our patient.
PMCID: PMC3912937  PMID: 24472564
Anaphylaxis; Peppermint; Menthol; IgE mediated
2.  Salicylate intolerance: a masquerader of multiple adverse drug reactions 
BMJ Case Reports  2009;2009:bcr02.2009.1602.
A female in her early 50s presented with a long-standing history of episodic urticaria and angioedema. She also reported urticarial reactions after ingestion of aspirin, prednisone and multiple antibiotics. These medications were all taken during upper respiratory tract infections. An elimination diet followed by a series of open challenges to food chemicals demonstrated an urticarial eruption following the ingestion of mints, which contain high levels of salicylates. A double-blinded placebo-controlled challenge to salicylate confirmed her sensitivity and explained her reaction to aspirin. The patient informed her treating physician of her copious ingestion of mints during upper respiratory tract infections. Drug hypersensitivity to antibiotics and prednisone was excluded on the basis of negative radioallergosorbent tests (RASTs) and/or absent skin-test responses and/or tolerance to oral challenges. This patient had a salicylate intolerance that caused her episodic urticaria and angioedema, and also masqueraded as a drug allergy due to the concurrent ingestion of mints.
PMCID: PMC3027804  PMID: 21918670
3.  Study of the Effect of Mint Oil on Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy 
Approximately 80 percent of pregnant women suffer by some degree of nausea and vomiting. But the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is rarely successful.
The aim of this study was evaluation the effect of mint on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that its treatment in some recent research has been effective.
Materials and Methods
In this double blind RCT, 60 pregnant women with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy were sampled and divided into two groups with Block-randomized method. mint group, in addition to giving the routine training, for four consecutive nights, before sleeping, a bowel of water whit four drops of pure mint essential oil placed on the floor near their beds and in control groups were used four drops of normal saline . The severity of nausea by using Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and severity of vomiting by counting the number of its in 7 days prior, 4 days during, and 7 days after intervention were assessed.
The results showed that the severity of nausea and vomiting did not differ between the two groups in 7days before and after intervention by using repeated measurement test. But during intervention, the severity of nausea showed a decreasing trend (especially in 4th night) in the mint and an increasing trend in the control group. The severity of nausea within 7 days after the intervention had a decreasing trend in both groups; however, the intensity was lower in the mint than saline group but not statically significant. No meaningful relationship has been detected during and after intervention for the intensity of vomiting.
The results of study showed that peppermint essential oil hasn't the effect on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3560544  PMID: 23396673
Mentha piperita; Nausea; Vomiting; Aromatherapy
4.  Association between DNA Methylation and Shortened Survival in Patients with Advanced Colorectal Cancer Treated with 5-Fluorouracil–Based Chemotherapy 
There are no good genomic markers of survival in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) marks a distinctive pathway in colorectal cancer. We sought to determine the prognostic significance of CIMP in advanced colorectal cancer patients treated with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group clinical trial.
Experimental Design
We studied 188 patients enrolled on protocol E2290, a five-arm trial comparing 5-FU, 5-FU in combination with N-phosphonoacetyl-L-aspartic acid, oral leucovorin, i.v. leucovorin, or IFNα-2a in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Methylation of MINT1, MINT31, hMLH1, p14ARF, and p16INK4a in DNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens was evaluated by combined bisulfite restriction analysis, and methylation of MINT2 was studied by methylation-specific PCR.
Methylation frequencies were 21% for MINT1, 23% for MINT2, 24% for MINT31, 4% for hMLH1, 11% for p14ARF, and 17% for p16INK4a. Methylation of MINT1, MINT31, p14ARF, and p16INK4a were correlated, as expected. There was no association between methylation and clinicopathologic factors or response to therapy. Methylation of MINT1, MINT31, p14ARF, or p16INK4a was associated individually with shortened overall survival. Hazard ratios were 1.51 (P = 0.05) for MINT1, 1.70 (P = 0.006) for MINT31, 2.22 (P = 0.001) for p14ARF, and 1.51 (P = 0.05) for p16INK4a. Concurrent methylation of two or more genes of the CIMP-associated subset (MINT1, MINT31, p14ARF and p16INK4a) defined a group of cases with markedly reduced overall survival and hazard ratio was 3.22 (P < 0.0001in multivariate analyses).
CIMP is associated with poor survival in advanced colorectal cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3575642  PMID: 17947473
5.  Cinnamon-induced Oral Mucosal Contact Reaction 
The Open Dentistry Journal  2015;9:257-259.
Contact stomatitis associated with consumption of cinnamon flavoring agents is a relatively uncommon disorder. Of relevance, both clinical features and the histopathologic findings of this condition are nonspecific, and, more importantly, may resemble some other inflammatory oral mucosa disorders, eventually making diagnosis difficult. Usually a patient exhibits a combination of white and erythematous patches of abrupt onset, accompanied by a burning sensation. To shed some light on this subject, a case of a 64-year-old woman with hypersensitivity contact reaction on the oral mucosa due to cinnamon mints is presented, with emphasis on differential diagnosis and the process for confirmation of the diagnosis. The treatment consists of discontinuing the use of cinnamon products. Clinicians will be able to recognize this disorder following a careful clinical examination and detailed history. This recognition is important in order to avoid invasive and expensive diagnostic procedures.
PMCID: PMC4541332  PMID: 26312097
Cinnamon-contact stomatitis; contact stomatitis; differential diagnosis; hypersensitivity; oral mucosa lesion
6.  Comparison of Desensitizing Efficacy of an Iranian Dentifrice and a Commercially Available Dentifrice: A Randomized Double-Blinded Controlled Clinical Trial 
The aim of this randomized controlled clinical trial was to investigate the effect of a new Iranian toothpaste and a commercially available toothpaste containing desensitizing agent (5% potassium nitrate) on dentine hypersensitivity in a 24-week study.
Materials and Methods:
Fifty healthy volunteers, who had at least two sensitive root surfaces, completed the study period. The participants were randomly given one of the two toothpastes; Iranian (antihypersensitive Pooneh) or commercially available (fresh mint Sensodyne) toothpaste. Visual analogue scales (VASs) indicating the intensity of tooth hypersensitivity responding to tactile, airblast and cold-water stimuli were examined at baseline and weeks 2, 4, 12 and 24.
Overall, VAS scores for tactile, airblast, and cold-water tests significantly reduced compared with the baseline in both groups (all P values <0.001).
However, there was no significant difference between the two groups regarding the measured parameters.
This study demonstrated that the Iranian dentifrice (antihypersensitive Pooneh) was as effective as the commercially available one (fresh mint Sensodyne) in reducing tooth hypersensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3875509  PMID: 24396354
Clinical Trial; Potassium Nitrate; Dentin Hypersensitivity; Toothpaste
7.  Flavored and Nonflavored Smokeless Tobacco Products: Rate, Pattern of Use, and Effects 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;15(1):88-92.
The initiation and maintenance of tobacco use are influenced by several factors, but of equal and often overlooked importance, until recently, is the palatability of the product. Because of the role that flavor may play in the initiation and maintenance of tobacco use, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to ban the use of flavorings, other than menthol, from cigarettes. To date, little attention has been paid to the impact of flavoring in smokeless tobacco (ST) products.
This study combined the data from 5 previously completed treatment or switching studies to examine the choice of brand flavor in the course of ST use, from initiation to regular use.
The analyses revealed that a majority of subjects’ first and current choice of product was flavored, specifically mint or wintergreen, and that a significant number of ST users switched to a flavored brand after already initiating ST use with a regular nonflavored product. In this population, however, flavored products did not appear to lead to greater dependence or increased exposure to nicotine or carcinogens.
More treatment seeking ST users began by using mint-flavored product and switched to and were current users of mint-flavored products. It is possible that mint products play a role in the initiation and maintenance of ST use.
PMCID: PMC3524058  PMID: 22529222
8.  Insecticidal Activity of Plant Essential Oils Against the Vine Mealybug, Planococcus ficus 
The vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus (Signoret) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is a pest in grape vine growing areas worldwide. The essential oils from the following aromatic plants were tested for their insecticidal activity against P. ficus: peppermint, Mentha piperita L. (Lamiales: Lamiaceae), thyme-leaved savory, Satureja thymbra L., lavender, Lavandula angustifolia Mill, and basil, Ocimum basilicum L. Essential oils from peels of the following fruits were also tested: lemon, Citrus limon L. (Sapindales: Rutaceae), and orange, C. sinensis L. The reference product was paraffin oil. Bioassays were conducted in the laboratory by using spray applications on grape leaves bearing clusters of P. ficus of one size class, which mainly represented either 3rd instar nymphs or pre-ovipositing adult females. The LC50 values for each essential oil varied depending on the P. ficus life stage but did not significantly differ between 3rd instar nymphs and adult females. The LC50 values of the citrus, peppermint, and thyme-leaved savory essential oils ranged from 2.7 to 8.1 mg/mL, and the LC50 values of lavender and basil oil ranged from 19.8 to 22.5 and 44.1 to 46.8 mg/mL, respectively. The essential oils from citrus, peppermint and thymeleaved savory were more or equally toxic compared to the reference product, whereas the lavender and basil essential oils were less toxic than the paraffin oil. No phytotoxic symptoms were observed on grape leaves treated with the citrus essential oils, and low phytotoxicity was caused by the essential oils of lavender, thyme-leaved savory, and mint, whereas the highest phytotoxicity was observed when basil oil was used.
PMCID: PMC4015406  PMID: 24766523
basil; botanical insecticides; citrus; lavender; mealybugs; mint; thyme—leaved savory; toxic effect
9.  The Role of the Left Inferior Frontal Gyrus in Implicit Semantic Competition and Selection: An Event-Related fMRI Study 
Brain research  2008;1229:167-178.
Recent research suggests that the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) plays a role in selecting semantic information from among competing alternatives. A key question remains as to whether the LIFG is engaged by the selection of semantic information only or by increased semantic competition in and of itself, especially when such competition is implicit in nature. Ambiguous words presented in a lexical context provide a means of examining whether the LIFG is recruited under conditions when contextual cues constrain selection to only the meaning appropriate to the context (e.g., coin-mint-money) or under conditions of increased competition when contextual cues do not allow for the resolution to a particular meaning (e.g., candy-mint-money). In this event-related fMRI study, an implicit task was used in which subjects made lexical (i.e., word/nonword) decisions on the third stimulus of auditorily-presented triplets in conditions where the lexical context either promoted resolution toward a particular ambiguous word meaning or enhanced the competition among ambiguous word meanings. LIFG activation was observed when the context allowed for the resolution of competition and hence the selection of one meaning (e.g., coin-mint-money) but failed to emerge when competition between the meanings of an ambiguous word was unresolved by the context (e.g., candy-mint-money). In the latter case, there was a pattern of reduced activation in frontal, temporal and parietal areas. These findings demonstrate that selection or resolution of competition as opposed to increased semantic competition alone engages the LIFG. Moreover, they extend previous work in showing that the LIFG is recruited even in cases where the selection of meaning takes place implicitly.
PMCID: PMC2566953  PMID: 18656462
fMRI; left inferior frontal gyrus; left superior temporal gyrus; semantic ambiguity; semantic competition; semantic selection
10.  Effects of Nicotine on Olfactogustatory Incentives: Preference, Palatability, and Operant Choice Tests 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2013;15(9):1545-1554.
The use of additives in tobacco may capitalize on the incentive motivational properties of tastes and scents such as mint (menthol), vanilla, and strawberry. These incentives are intended to increase tobacco experimentation, but their salience may also be enhanced by the incentive amplifying effects of nicotine (NIC). The goal of the present studies was to investigate the potential interaction between the incentive amplifying effects of NIC and gustatory incentives.
One of two discriminable tastes (grape or cherry Kool-Aid®; 0.05% wt/vol; unsweetened) was paired with sucrose (20% wt/vol; conditioned stimulus [CS+]) in deionized water, whereas the other taste (CS−) was presented in deionized water. Experiment 1 investigated the effects of NIC pretreatment on preference for the CS+ versus CS− in 2-bottle choice tests. Experiment 2 investigated the effects of NIC on palatability of the CS+ and CS− using orofacial taste reactions. Experiment 3 investigated the effects of NIC on reinforcement by the CS+ and CS− using a concurrent choice operant task.
NIC pretreatment robustly increased operant responding for the CS+ but did not alter responding for the CS− in the operant choice task (Experiment 3). However, NIC pretreatment did not alter intake or palatability of the CS+ or CS− (Experiments 1 and 2).
NIC increases the reinforcing effects of gustatory incentive stimuli, even though these stimuli were not paired with NIC administration. The findings suggest that adding taste incentives to tobacco products may increase the attractiveness of these products to consumers and the probability of repeated use.
PMCID: PMC3741061  PMID: 23430737
11.  Promoter Hypermethylation Profiling Identifies Subtypes of Head and Neck Cancer with Distinct Viral, Environmental, Genetic and Survival Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129808.
Epigenetic and genetic alteration plays a major role to the development of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Consumption of tobacco (smoking/chewing) and human papilloma virus (HPV) are also associated with an increase the risk of HNSCC. Promoter hypermethylation of the tumor suppression genes is related with transcriptional inactivation and loss of gene expression. We investigated epigenetic alteration (promoter methylation of tumor-related genes/loci) in tumor tissues in the context of genetic alteration, viral infection, and tobacco exposure and survival status.
The study included 116 tissue samples (71 tumor and 45 normal tissues) from the Northeast Indian population. Methylation specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) was used to determine the methylation status of 10 tumor-related genes/loci (p16, DAPK, RASSF1, BRAC1, GSTP1, ECAD, MLH1, MINT1, MINT2 and MINT31). Polymorphisms of CYP1A1, GST (M1 & T1), XRCC1and XRCC2 genes were studied by using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and multiplex-PCR respectively.
Principal Findings
Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis based on methylation pattern had identified two tumor clusters, which significantly differ by CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), tobacco, GSTM1, CYP1A1, HPV and survival status. Analyzing methylation of genes/loci individually, we have found significant higher methylation of DAPK, RASSF1, p16 and MINT31genes (P = 0.031, 0.013, 0.031 and 0.015 respectively) in HPV (+) cases compared to HPV (-). Furthermore, a CIMP-high and Cluster-1 characteristic was also associated with poor survival.
Promoter methylation profiles reflecting a correlation with tobacco, HPV, survival status and genetic alteration and may act as a marker to determine subtypes and patient outcome in HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC4476679  PMID: 26098903
12.  Mint3/X11γ Is an ADP-Ribosylation Factor-dependent Adaptor that Regulates the Traffic of the Alzheimer's Precursor Protein from the Trans-Golgi Network 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(1):51-64.
β-Amyloid peptides (Aβ) are the major component of plaques in brains of Alzheimer's patients, and are they derived from the proteolytic processing of the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP). The movement of APP between organelles is highly regulated, and it is tightly connected to its processing by secretases. We proposed previously that transport of APP within the cell is mediated in part through its sorting into Mint/X11-containing carriers. To test our hypothesis, we purified APP-containing vesicles from human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, and we showed that Mint2/3 are specifically enriched and that Mint3 and APP are present in the same vesicles. Increasing cellular APP levels increased the amounts of both APP and Mint3 in purified vesicles. Additional evidence supporting an obligate role for Mint3 in traffic of APP from the trans-Golgi network to the plasma membrane include the observations that depletion of Mint3 by small interference RNA (siRNA) or mutation of the Mint binding domain of APP changes the export route of APP from the basolateral to the endosomal/lysosomal sorting route. Finally, we show that increased expression of Mint3 decreased and siRNA-mediated knockdowns increased the secretion of the neurotoxic β-amyloid peptide, Aβ1-40. Together, our data implicate Mint3 activity as a critical determinant of post-Golgi APP traffic.
PMCID: PMC2174186  PMID: 17959829
13.  Comparison of the antibacterial activity of essential oils and extracts of medicinal and culinary herbs to investigate potential new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome 
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, which may result from alteration of the gastrointestinal microbiota following gastrointestinal infection, or with intestinal dysbiosis or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. This may be treated with antibiotics, but there is concern that widespread antibiotic use might lead to antibiotic resistance. Some herbal medicines have been shown to be beneficial, but their mechanism(s) of action remain incompletely understood. To try to understand whether antibacterial properties might be involved in the efficacy of these herbal medicines, and to investigate potential new treatments for IBS, we have conducted a preliminary study in vitro to compare the antibacterial activity of the essential oils of culinary and medicinal herbs against the bacterium, Esherichia coli.
Essential oils were tested for their ability to inhibit E. coli growth in disc diffusion assays and in liquid culture, and to kill E. coli in a zone of clearance assay. Extracts of coriander, lemon balm and spearmint leaves were tested for their antibacterial activity in the disc diffusion assay. Disc diffusion and zone of clearance assays were analysed by two-tailed t tests whereas ANOVA was performed for the turbidometric assays.
Most of the oils exhibited antibacterial activity in all three assays, however peppermint, lemon balm and coriander seed oils were most potent, with peppermint and coriander seed oils being more potent than the antibiotic rifaximin in the disc diffusion assay. The compounds present in these oils were identified by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Finally, extracts were made of spearmint, lemon balm and coriander leaves with various solvents and these were tested for their antibacterial activity against E. coli in the disc diffusion assay. In each case, extracts made with ethanol and methanol exhibited potent antibacterial activity.
Many of the essential oils had antibacterial activity in the three assays, suggesting that they would be good candidates for testing in clinical trials. The observed antibacterial activity of ethanolic extracts of coriander, lemon balm and spearmint leaves suggests a mechanistic explanation for the efficacy of a mixture of coriander, lemon balm and mint extracts against IBS in a published clinical trial.
PMCID: PMC4220539  PMID: 24283351
Irritable bowel syndrome; IBS; Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; SIBO; Herbal medicine; Antibacterial; Antimicrobial; Essential oil
14.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
15.  Determination of Heavy Metals Concentration in Traditional Herbs Commonly Consumed in the United Arab Emirates 
Herbs are extensively consumed in the United Arab Emirates for their flavoring and medicinal properties. This study aimed at determining the concentration of heavy metals in selected traditional herbs consumed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A total of 81 samples of seven herbs, parsley (Petroselinum crispum), basil (Ocimum basilicum), sage (Salvia officinalis), oregano (Origanum vulgare), mint (Mentha spicata), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), were purchased from the local market in Dubai and analyzed for their cadmium, lead, copper, iron, and zinc contents. Microwave-assisted digestion was applied for the dissolution of the samples and heavy metals concentration was determined using Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS). Metals were found to be present in varied concentrations in the herb samples. The concentration ranges were found as follows: less than 0.1–1.11 mg·kg−1 for cadmium, less than 1.0–23.52 mg·kg−1 for lead, 1.44–156.24 mg·kg−1 for copper, 12.65–146.67 mg·kg−1 for zinc, and 81.25–1101.22 mg·kg−1 for iron. The findings of the study suggest that most of the analyzed herbs contained unsafe levels of heavy metals that exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) permissible limits (PL).
PMCID: PMC4426653  PMID: 26000023
16.  The effects of peppermint on exercise performance 
Enhancing athletic performance is a great desire among the athletes, coaches and researchers. Mint is one of the most famous natural herbs used for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, and vasoconstrictor effects. Even though inhaling mint aroma in athletes has been investigated, there were no significant effects on the exercise performance.
Twelve healthy male students every day consumed one 500 ml bottle of mineral water, containing 0.05 ml peppermint essential oil for ten days. Blood pressure, heart rate, and spirometry parameters including forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow rate (PEF), and peak inspiratory flow (PIF) were determined one day before, and after the supplementation period. Participants underwent a treadmill-based exercise test with metabolic gas analysis and ventilation measurement using the Bruce protocol.
The FVC (4.57 ± 0.90 vs. 4.79 ± 0.84; p < 0.001), PEF (8.50 ± 0.94 vs. 8.87 ± 0.92; p < 0.01), and PIF (5.71 ± 1.16 vs. 6.58 ±1.08; p < 0.005) significantly changed after ten days of supplementation. Exercise performance evaluated by time to exhaustion (664.5 ± 114.2 vs. 830.2 ± 129.8 s), work (78.34 ±32.84 vs. 118.7 ± 47.38 KJ), and power (114.3 ± 24.24 vs. 139.4 ± 27.80 KW) significantly increased (p < 0.001). In addition, the results of respiratory gas analysis exhibited significant differences in VO2 (2.74 ± 0.40 vs. 3.03 ± 0.351 L/min; p < 0.001), and VCO2 (3.08 ± 0.47 vs. 3.73 ± 0.518 L/min; p < 0.001).
The results of the experiment support the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil on the exercise performance, gas analysis, spirometry parameters, blood pressure, and respiratory rate in the young male students. Relaxation of bronchial smooth muscles, increase in the ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, and decrease in the blood lactate level are the most plausible explanations.
PMCID: PMC3607906  PMID: 23517650
Peppermint essential oil; Exercise performance; Respiratory gas analysis; Spirometry
17.  Beta-escin has potent anti-allergic efficacy and reduces allergic airway inflammation 
BMC Immunology  2010;11:24.
Type I hypersensitivity is characterized by the overreaction of the immune system against otherwise innocuous substances. It manifests as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma or atopic dermatitis if mast cells are activated in the respective organs. In case of systemic mast cell activation, life-threatening anaphylaxis may occur. Currently, type I hypersensitivities are treated either with glucocorticoids, anti-histamines, or mast cell stabilizers. Although these drugs exert a strong anti-allergic effect, their long-term use may be problematic due to their side-effects.
In the course of a routine in vitro screening process, we identified beta-escin as a potentially anti-allergic compound. Here we tested beta-escin in two mouse models to confirm this anti-allergic effect in vivo. In a model of the early phase of allergic reactions, the murine passive cutaneous anaphylaxis model, beta-escin inhibited the effects of mast cell activation and degranulation in the skin and dose-dependently prevented the extravasation of fluids into the tissue. Beta-escin also significantly inhibited the late response after antigen challenge in a lung allergy model with ovalbumin-sensitized mice. Allergic airway inflammation was suppressed, which was exemplified by the reduction of leucocytes, eosinophils, IL-5 and IL-13 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Histopathological examinations further confirmed the reduced inflammation of the lung tissue. In both models, the inhibitory effect of beta-escin was comparable to the benchmark dexamethasone.
We demonstrated in two independent murine models of type I hypersensitivity that beta-escin has potent anti-allergic properties. These results and the excellent safety profile of beta-escin suggest a therapeutic potential of this compound for a novel treatment of allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2898835  PMID: 20487574
18.  Solar drying of whole mint plant under natural and forced convection 
Journal of Advanced Research  2013;6(2):171-178.
Two identical prototype solar dryers (direct and indirect) having the same dimensions were used to dry whole mint. Both prototypes were operated under natural and forced convection modes. In the case of the later one the ambient air was entered the dryer with the velocity of 4.2 m s−1. The effect of flow mode and the type of solar dryers on the drying kinetics of whole mint were investigated. Ten empirical models were used to fit the drying curves; nine of them represented well the solar drying behavior of mint. The results indicated that drying of mint under different operating conditions occurred in the falling rate period, where no constant rate period of drying was observed. Also, the obtained data revealed that the drying rate of mint under forced convection was higher than that of mint under natural convection, especially during first hours of drying (first day). The values of the effective diffusivity coefficient for the mint drying ranged between 1.2 × 10−11 and 1.33 × 10−11 m2 s−1.
PMCID: PMC4348449  PMID: 25750751
Mint; Solar drying; Natural convection; Forced convection; Thin layer drying; Effective diffusivity
19.  A Practice-based Trial of Motivational Interviewing and Adherence in Hypertensive 065African Americans1 
American journal of hypertension  2008;21(10):1137-1143.
Poor medication adherence is a significant problem in hypertensive African Americans. Although motivational interviewing (MINT) is effective for adoption and maintenance of health behaviors in patients with chronic diseases, its effect on medication adherence remains untested in this population.
This randomized controlled trial tested the effect of a practice-based MINT counseling versus usual care (UC) on medication adherence and blood pressure (BP) in 190 hypertensive African Americans (88% women; mean age 54 years). Patients were recruited from two community-based primary care practices in New York City. The primary outcome was adherence measured by electronic pill monitors; the secondary outcome was within-patient change in office BP from baseline to 12 months.
Baseline adherence was similar in both groups (56.2% and 56.6% for MINT and UC respectively, p = 0.94). Based on intent-to-treat analysis using mixed effects regression, a significant time X group interaction with model-predicted post-treatment adherence rates of 43% and 57% were found in the UC and MINT groups, respectively (p = 0.027), with a between-group difference of 14% (95% CI, −0.2% to −27%). The between-group difference in systolic and diastolic BP was −6.1 mm Hg (p = .065) and −1.4 mm Hg (p = .465), respectively, in favor of the MINT group.
A practice-based MINT counseling led to steady maintenance of medication adherence over time, compared to significant decline in adherence for UC patients. This effect was associated with a clinically meaningful net reduction in systolic BP in favor of the MINT group.
PMCID: PMC3747638  PMID: 18654123
Motivational Interviewing; Medication Adherence; African American; Hypertension
20.  MSH6 G39E Polymorphism and CpG Island Methylator Phenotype in Colon Cancer 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(11):989-994.
The MSH6 G39E germline polymorphism is not associated with an increased risk of either microsatellite stable or unstable sporadic colorectal cancer. Other than microsatellite instability, however, most genetic and epigenetic changes of tumors associated with this common variant have not been studied. The objective of our investigation was to evaluate associations between the MSH6 G39E (116G>A) polymorphism and CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) and BRAF V600E mutations in tumors from a sample of 1048 individuals with colon cancer and 1964 controls from Utah, Northern California, and Minnesota. The G39E polymorphism (rs1042821) was determined by the five prime nuclease assay. CIMP was determined by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of CpG islands in MLH1, methylated in tumors (MINT)1, MINT2, MINT31, and CDKN2A. The BRAF V600E mutation was determined by sequencing exon 15. In microsatellite stable tumors, homozygous carriers of the G39E polymorphism had an increased risk of CIMP+ colon cancer (odds ratio (OR) 2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1, 4.2) and BRAF V600E mutation (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.01, 9.7) in a case–control comparison. This finding was not observed in unstable tumors; however, power may have been low to detect an association. Age at diagnosis, family history, and alcohol use did not interact with MSH6 G39E and CIMP. The MSH6 G39E germline polymorphism may be associated with CIMP+ colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC2895423  PMID: 19582761
MSH6; CIMP; DNA mismatch repair; microsatellite instability; colon cancer
21.  Detection of viral DNA sequences in sporadic colorectal cancers in relation to CpG island methylation and methylator phenotype 
Tumour Biology  2011;32(4):653-659.
There is evidence that insertion of viral DNA into a mammalian genome can lead to alterations of methylation patterns. The aim of the present study was to examine the presence of DNA sequences of five human DNA viruses (assessed by PCR): JC polyoma virus (JCV), human adenovirus (AdV), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8) and human papillomavirus (HPV) in a cohort of 186 sporadic colorectal cancers (CRCs) and related these data with the methylation status of six CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP)-specific genes (MLH1, CACNA1G, NEUROG1, IGF2, SOCS1, RUNX3) and seven cancer-related genes markers (p16, MINT1, MINT2, MINT31, EN1, SCTR and INHBB) assessed by methylation-specific PCR in 186 and 134 CRC cases, respectively. The AdV, KSHV and HPV were detected in four (2%), two (1%) and zero CRC cases, respectively, and thus were excluded from further analyses. Although 19% and 9% of the CRCs were positive for EBV and JCV, respectively, no associations between virus presence and CpG island methylation were found after correction for multiple testing. Our results demonstrate that the presence of DNA sequences of JCV and EBV in CRC is unrelated to the methylation of the 13 cancer-related CpG islands and CIMP.
PMCID: PMC3131518  PMID: 21625944
CIMP; Virus; JCV; EBV; CRC; Colorectal
22.  Antimicrobial Activity Of Essential Oils Against Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (Vre) And Escherichia Coli O157:H7 In Feta Soft Cheese And Minced Beef Meat 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2011;42(1):187-196.
Eleven essential oils (EOs) were evaluated for their antibacterial properties, against Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) and E. coli O157:H7. EOs were introduced into Brain Heart Infusion agar (BHI) (15ml) at a concentration of 0.25 to 2% (vol/vol) to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) for each pathogen evaluated. Results showed that the most active essential oils against bacteria tested were thyme oil, with MIC90 and MBC90 for the VRA strains of 0.25% and 0.5%, respectively. Eucalyptus, juniper and clove oils were the least potent agent, with MIC90 and MBC90 of 2%. Furthermore, the inhibitory effect of these EO were evaluated against VRE and E. coli O157:H7, experimentally inoculated (103 cfu/g) in Feta soft cheese and minced beef meat, which was mixed with different concentrations (0.1%, 0.5% and 1%) of the EO and stored at 7 °C for 14 days. Out of eucalyptus, juniper, mint, rosemary, sage, clove and thyme oils tested against target bacteria sage and thyme showed the best results. Clove and mint did not show any effect on VRE and E. coli O157:H7 in both kinds of studied foods. The addition of thyme oil at concentrations of 0.5 and 1% caused best significant reduction in the growth rate of VRE and E. coli O157:H7 in cheese and meat at 7 oC. It is concluded that selected plant EOs can act as potent inhibitors of both microorganisms in a food product. The results revealed the potential of thyme oil as a natural preservative in feta soft cheese and minced beef meat against VRE and E. coli O157:H7 contamination.
PMCID: PMC3768948  PMID: 24031620
Essential oils; VRE; E. coli O157:H7; Feta soft cheese; minced beef meat
23.  An expressed sequence tag (EST) library from developing fruits of an Hawaiian endemic mint (Stenogyne rugosa, Lamiaceae): characterization and microsatellite markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2006;6:16.
The endemic Hawaiian mints represent a major island radiation that likely originated from hybridization between two North American polyploid lineages. In contrast with the extensive morphological and ecological diversity among taxa, ribosomal DNA sequence variation has been found to be remarkably low. In the past few years, expressed sequence tag (EST) projects on plant species have generated a vast amount of publicly available sequence data that can be mined for simple sequence repeats (SSRs). However, these EST projects have largely focused on crop or otherwise economically important plants, and so far only few studies have been published on the use of intragenic SSRs in natural plant populations. We constructed an EST library from developing fleshy nutlets of Stenogyne rugosa principally to identify genetic markers for the Hawaiian endemic mints.
The Stenogyne fruit EST library consisted of 628 unique transcripts derived from 942 high quality ESTs, with 68% of unigenes matching Arabidopsis genes. Relative frequencies of Gene Ontology functional categories were broadly representative of the Arabidopsis proteome. Many unigenes were identified as putative homologs of genes that are active during plant reproductive development. A comparison between unigenes from Stenogyne and tomato (both asterid angiosperms) revealed many homologs that may be relevant for fruit development. Among the 628 unigenes, a total of 44 potentially useful microsatellite loci were predicted. Several of these were successfully tested for cross-transferability to other Hawaiian mint species, and at least five of these demonstrated interesting patterns of polymorphism across a large sample of Hawaiian mints as well as close North American relatives in the genus Stachys.
Analysis of this relatively small EST library illustrated a broad GO functional representation. Many unigenes could be annotated to involvement in reproductive development. Furthermore, first tests of microsatellite primer pairs have proven promising for the use of Stenogyne rugosa EST SSRs for evolutionary and phylogeographic studies of the Hawaiian endemic mints and their close relatives. Given that allelic repeat length variation in developmental genes of other organisms has been linked with morphological evolution, these SSRs may also prove useful for analyses of phenotypic differences among Hawaiian mints.
PMCID: PMC1560379  PMID: 16928278
24.  The Multilingual Naming Test in Alzheimer’s Disease: Clues to the Origin of Naming Impairments 
The current study explored the picture naming performance of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). First, we evaluated the utility of the Multilingual Naming Test (MINT; Gollan et al., 2011), which was designed to assess naming skills in speakers of multiple languages, for detecting naming impairments in monolingual AD and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). If the MINT were sensitive to linguistic impairment in AD, using it in clinical practice might have advantages over using tests exclusively designed for English monolinguals. We found that the MINT can be used with both monolinguals and bilinguals: A 32-item subset of the MINT is best for distinguishing monolingual patients from controls, while the full MINT is best for assessing degree of bilingualism and language dominance in bilinguals. We then investigated the cognitive mechanisms underlying naming impairment in AD. To this end, we explored which MINT item characteristics best predicted performance differences between monolingual patients and controls. We found that contextual diversity and imageability, but not word frequency (nor words’ number of senses), contributed unique variance to explaining naming impairments in AD. These findings suggest a semantic component to the naming impairment in AD (modulated by names’ semantic richness and network size).
PMCID: PMC4356120  PMID: 23298442
Picture naming; Bilingualism; Bilingual index scores; Language dominance; Frequency; Imageability; Contextual diversity; Number of senses
25.  Comparing system-specific chaperone interactions with their Tat dependent redox enzyme substrates 
Febs Letters  2010;584(22):4553-4558.
Redox enzyme substrates of the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system contain a RR-motif in their leader peptide and require the assistance of chaperones, redox enzyme maturation proteins (REMPs). Here various regions of the RR-containing oxidoreductase subunit (leader peptide, full preprotein with and without a leader cleavage site, mature protein) were assayed for interaction with their REMPs. All REMPs bound their preprotein substrates independent of the cleavage site. Some showed binding to either the leader or mature region, whereas in one case only the preprotein bound its REMP. The absence of Tat also influenced the amount of chaperone–substrate interaction.
Structured summary
MINT-8047497: FdhE (uniprotkb:P13024) and FdoG (uniprotkb:P32176) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
MINT-8046441: HybO (uniprotkb:P69741) and HybE (uniprotkb:P0AAN1) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
MINT-8046375: DmsA (uniprotkb:P18775) and DmsD (uniprotkb:P69853) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
MINT-8046425: TorA (uniprotkb:P33225) and TorD (uniprotkb:P36662) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
MINT-8046393: NarJ (uniprotkb:P0AF26) and NarG (uniprotkb:P09152) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
MINT-8046409: NapD (uniprotkb:P0A9I5) and NapA (uniprotkb:P33937) physically interact (MI:0915) by two hybrid (MI:0018)
PMCID: PMC3285697  PMID: 20974141 CAMSID: cams1627
System specific chaperone; Twin-arginine translocase system; Twin arginine translocase; Leader sequence; Bacterial two-hybrid; Protein maturation

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