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Luangwa River

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Obsession for Men - dangerous fragrance?

Guatemala City - Biologists tracking jaguars in the Guatemalan jungle might smell nice but it's all in the name of science, with researchers finding the Calvin Klein cologne Obsession For Men attracts big cats.

Biologists Rony Garcia and Jose Moreira from the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Jaguar Conservation Programme say they use hidden cameras as a primary source for observing and tracking jaguars in the Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve.

But they also rely on Obsession For Men, a cologne known for its complex scent, to help lure then research and hopefully ultimately preserve jaguars in the Central American country.

"The method we are using to study the jaguars here in Guatemala is an invasive method which is based on photographing the individuals by using camera traps," Moreira told Reuters Television.

"It has been very useful using Obsession (For Men) to get the jaguars in front of these camera traps ... and that allows us to estimate with greater confidence the genders and the numbers that live in each studied site."

The discovery that Obsession For Men acted as a magnet for jaguars was the result of an experiment by the WCS's Bronx Zoo in New York.

The WCS was looking for ways to get cheetahs in front of camera traps, and, after several years of testing with different fragrances, found spraying the musky Obsession For Men near the heat-and-motion-sensitive cameras drew the cats for longer than other scents.

They also tried out about 23 other fragrances but Obsession For Men kept the cats' attention for longest, with Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps coming second.

The practice made its way down to Guatemala, where Garcia and Moreira said they have been recording similar success in the wild since 2007, allowing them to track jaguars and even record their mating rituals.

Garcia said the results will be invaluable to conservation efforts.

"These camera traps help us to identify how many jaguars are living in this area ... (and) helps us to have control over the population and let's us say to the government, to the public, that Laguna del Tigre still deserves conservation," he said.

The WCS said it tentatively plans to expand the use of the cologne in programmes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador in coming years. - Reuters

Monday, June 07, 2010

Harnessing honey's healing power

Harnessing honey's healing power
By Angie Knox

Professor Peter Molan of the Honey Research Unit
Professor Molan is trying to pin down the mystery factor
Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years - the Ancient Greeks used it, and so have many other peoples through the ages.

Even up to the second world war, honey was being used for its antibacterial properties in treating wounds.

But with the advent of penicillin and other antibiotic drugs in the twentieth century, honey's medicinal qualities have taken a back seat.

But that might be about to change - thanks to one New Zealand based researcher.

Working in his Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, in the central North Island, biochemist Professor Peter Molan has identified one particular type of honey with extraordinary healing qualities.

Professor Molan has shown that honey made from the flowers of the manuka bush, a native of New Zealand, has antibacterial properties over and above those of other honeys.

Mystery ingredient

He said: "In all honeys, there is - to different levels - hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar.

"In manuka honey, and its close relative which grows in Australia called jellybush, there's something else besides the hydrogen peroxide.

"And there's nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world."

That "something else" has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is.

But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.

And he has found a way to measure its antibacterial efficacy, by comparing UMF manuka honey with a standard antiseptic (carbolic, or phenol) in its ability to fight bacteria. The results are astonishing.

He said: "We know it has a very broad spectrum of action.

"It works on bacteria, fungi, protozoa. We haven't found anything it doesn't work on among infectious organisms."

Resistant strains

A satisfied user
"I got bitten by an Alsatian. It grabbed my hand and gave me a five-stitch bite. So I went off to the doctors, and they solely used manuka honey, nothing else, no other treatment. I've got barely a scar now, and that's only three weeks ago. Now in the medical kit I carry in the truck, I have manuka honey and bandages, and that's all."
Chris Graham
In fact, he says UMF manuka honey can even tackle antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria - a growing problem for hospitals around the world.

"Staphylococcus aureas is the most common wound-infecting species of bacteria, and that's the most sensitive to honey that we've found.

"And that includes the antibiotic resistant strains - the MRSA - which is just as sensitive to honey as any other staphylococcus aureas."

Clinical trials at the Waikato Hospital have shown that even out of the lab, UMF manuka honey has amazing healing properties.

Nurse practitioner Julie Betts has successfully used honey to treat leg ulcers and pressure sores. And she says it helps healing after surgery - particularly for diabetic patients.

"It has an anti-inflammatory effect as well, so if I want to do several things apart from actually controlling the bacteria in that wound, then that's when I'll use honey."

Cancer treatment

Cancer specialist Dr Glenys Round has also found honey to be an effective treatment.

The honey is exported widely
"We've been using honey to treat fungating wounds, where the cancer has broken through the skin," she said.

"The results in that situation have been excellent."

Most recently, she has had success in using honey dressings on patients with wounds or ulcers resulting from radiation therapy.

"Most of these patients in the past had tried various other conventional treatments without good success, and that is the reason why at least initially honey was tried."

Most patients seem happy to try the honey treatment.

"They don't have a problem with it at all," said Julie Betts.

"Humans in general have a fondness I think for natural remedies, so they're quite happy to use them."

"I think the problem we encounter is when people don't understand how it works.

"They think that sourcing any honey will achieve the same outcome, and that's not always true."

Worldwide export

That's a view shared by beekeeper Bill Bennett a few kilometres up the road from the hospital.

He and his wife Margaret run the Summerglow Apiaries, one of just a handful of registered suppliers of UMF manuka honey in New Zealand.

They produce between eight and twelve metric tonnes of manuka honey every year, and sell it across the world.

The honey is rigorously tested three times during production for that elusive unique manuka factor; only then can it carry the label "UMF manuka honey".

"It just seems that manuka from a few areas within New Zealand produces a nectar that has this special property," said Bill Bennett.

"There is a lot of manuka honey out there that doesn't have this special property. That's why it's so important to look for the name UMF."

Now, a New Zealand natural health products company Comvita is taking UMF manuka honey one step further.


Comvita has set up a new medical products division to take hi-tech honey dressings developed by Peter Molan to the international market.

The new dressings have been designed to take the mess out of honey.

"It's like a sheet of rubber, you can touch it without it being sticky at all," he said.

Comvita has high hopes for the new product.

"Previously untreatable wounds of many types are now found to be treatable by honey," said Comvita's Ray Lewis.

"The global market for wound care is in the range of two to six billion US dollars. So if we can capture just a small percentage of that, we will obviously be doing very well."