Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tropical Fish Collectors Find Life at 200 Feet

In the Miami Herald for 6/24/2006 there is an article that is interesting from several points of view. In describing another commercial diving modality there is the casual remark that "Before jumping in, they (the divers)took extract of prickly pear cactus pills to ward off decompression sickness."

Extract from the skin of prickly pear fruit, called OFI, had previously been shown to dampen inflammatory response. A study was reported a couple of years ago in the Archives of Internal Medicine (vol 164, p 1334)that showed a remarkable reduction in hangovers after a night of partying.

The morning after the parties, those given OFI were nursing less severe hangovers than those given placebo. In particular, it slashed the risk of a severe hangover by half.

The researchers also measured levels of a protein produced by the liver, called C-reactive protein, which is thought to be involved in the inflammation process.

The higher the levels, the worse the hangover, they found. This is the first study to show this, the team believes. Levels of this protein were also 40 per cent higher in the people who took placebo pills compared with those who took the OFI.

The researchers therefore believe that OFI eases hangovers by soothing the inflammatory response to alcohol.

I had the following information in my Ten Foot Stop Newsletter for June 30, 2004.

"Hangover cure = Heat stress proteins = Decompression injury protection?There is a flutter in the media about a study in the Archives of Medicine on 'Hangover Prevention Formula' [HPF]. It appears that an extract of the fruit of the prickly pear has been shown to decrease the effects of hangovers in a study reported by Jeff Wiese, MD, at Tulane University. HPF contains Tex-OE™, a patented, all-natural extract derived from the fruit of the Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ficus indica), and has it's effect through the elevation of protective heat shock proteins. The reason that this should be interesting to divers is that it was reported to be protective for decompression injury in divers in 1998 at the EUBS meeting.

Diving causes a rise in the level of HSP and early high levels of HSP are induced following pre-dive ingestion of TEX-OE. Reported at the EUBS Meeting by Cali-Corleo, et al in their Collection of Manuscripts; pages 20-33. Similar findings reported by the same group at the BHA Annual meeting, 1998.

It would be interesting to see the results of a good study indicating benefits from taking this substance in divers.