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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Date Fruit Benefits

Date fruit (Phoenix dactylifera) is one of the most popular and well-known fruit in the world. Date fruit is an edible, sweet, small and highly nutritious fruit which grows on medium-sized trees. Eating dates benefits the human body in many ways. Date fruits can be eaten alone or in combination of other herbs or in the form of date shake. Some of the date fruit benefits are:

  1. Fructose content of the date fruit treats constipation [1].
  2. Zinc [2] content contained in the fruits of date avoids allergies (e.g. Asthma).
  3. Several vitamins, minerals and phosphorus play an important role in stimulating reproductive system functioning [3].
  4. Dates are useful in the treatment of heart diseases [4] due to its iron content.
  5. Vitamin B complex and sugar content of the date fruits are useful in the prophylaxis in renal failure [5].
  6. Tannine [6] and vitamin K present in the date fruit help stop bleeding during pregnancy.
  7. It is helpful in the treatment of anemia [7], especially iron deficiency anemia in women.
  8. Dates play an important role to stop the multiplication and reproduction of cancerous cell [8] as they contain magnesium, calcium and sulfur. It is one of the important benefits of eating dates.
  9. Alkaline salts contained in the fruit of date treats acidity and heart burn [7].
  10. Some agents like carotene in date fruits helps improve dizziness.
  11. Flour of dried date fruit is helpful to treat asthma [2] and pertussis.
  12. Date fruits alleviate stress of pregnancy and childbirth [9].


  1. Wisten, A. and Messner, T., 2005. Fruit and fibre (Pajala porridge) in the prevention of constipation. Scandinavian journal of caring science , 19(1), 71-76.
  2. Morgan, C.L. et al. 2011. Zinc supplementation alters airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness to a common allergen. Journal of inflammation (London, England) , 8(1), 36.
  3. Al-Kuran, O. et al. 2011. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. Journal of obstetrics and gynecology: the journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 31(1), 29-31.
  4. Kansagara, D. et al. 2011. Treatment of anemia in patients with heart disease: a systemic review. . PubMed Health,   A Systematic Review. VA ESP Project # 05-225.
  5. Saafi-Ben Salah, EB. Et al. 2012. Antioxidant-rich date palm fruit extract inhibits oxidative stress and nephrotoxicity induced by dimethoate in rat. Journal of physiology and biochemistry. 68(1), 47-58.
  6. Livdans-Forret, A.B., Harvey, P.J. and Larkin-Their, S.M., 2007. Menorrhagia: A synopsis of management focusing on herbal and nutritional supplements, and chiropractic. The journal of the Canadian chiropractic association , 51(4), 235-246.
  7. Vyawahare, N. et al. 2009. Phoenix dactylifera: An update of its indegenous uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. The Internet Journal of Pharmacology, [online] 7(1) Available at: [Accessed on 17 September 2012].
  8. Al-Shahib, W. and Marshall, R.J., 2003. The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future? International journal of food sciences and nutrition , 54(4), 247-259.
  9. Koffour, G.A., Amoateng, P. and Andey, T.A., 2011. Immunomodulatory and erythropoietic effects of aqueous extract of the fruits of Solanum torvum Swartz (Solanaceae). Pharmacognosy research, 3(2), 130-134.

Keywords: Date fruit, Benefits of date fruit, Health benefits, Phoenix dactylifera,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pruritus in Pregnancy

Dr. Zafar Iqbal Malghani
MBBS, FCPS (Medicine)
District Physician DHQ Layyah
“One day, I was sitting in my office in routine, examining and prescribing medicine to the patients when a young pregnant lady in her late second trimester, swiftly entered the office, itching her palms, arms and legs. She complained that doctors were failed treating her illness. Even she complained that skin specialists had no solution of it. She told that she had the same illness during her last pregnancy.”

Pruritus in pregnancy or pruritus gravidarum (PG) refers to sudden onset of generalized pruritus with no evidence of any primary skin lesion during pregnancy, especially in second and third trimester of pregnancy. It affects 1-8% of the women during pregnancy, and sometimes, it may suffer up to 20 % of the pregnant women [1-3]. It is also called obstetric cholestasis, idiopathic jaundice of pregnancy, and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) [4].


  • Generalized itching usually starts during late second trimester and early third trimester. However, it may start as early as eight week of gestation.
  • PG peaks in the last month pregnancy and also occurs in the subsequent pregnancies.
  • Usually PG starts as severe itching of palms and soles then quickly spread to abdomen, chest and the extremities.
  • Most often, irritation and restlessness affect the sleep of the sufferer as PG is worse at night.
  • PG may present with jaundice, dark urine, clay-coloured stools and skin excoriations [5].


The cause of pruritus gravidarum is still unknown. However, it is thought that it occurs due to hepatic bile flow disruption during pregnancy [5]. Disruption of bile flow leads to pregnancy induced intrahepatic cholestasis, triggered by hormones especially estrogen. Therefore, serum level of bile acids rises to toxic levels, leading to severe pruritus.


Most often, diagnosis is based on the characteristic symptom of itching starting from palms and soles (usually without rash) without any primary skin lesion. Total serum bile acid levels are reported above 11.0 ╬╝mol/L. Liver transaminase levels (e.g. aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase) may also be raised. Jaundice and raised blood bilirubin may be noted. Abdominal ultrasonography and serologic tests may also be advised to rule out other causes of pruritus such as gall stones and viral hepatitis. Also, steatorrhea and vitamin K deficiency may be noted.


No specific treatment is available. However, the aim of the treatment is to reduce bile acid levels in serum.
Ursodeoxycholic acid (Triptor) is considered as treatment of choice as it offers the following benefits:
  • Improves maternal pruritus
  • Decreases liver transaminase
  • Reduces bile acids levels
  • May reduce the rate of adverse fetal outcomes
The dose of ursodeoxycholic acid is 15mg/kg daily divided in two doses until delivery [5].
Antihistamines (Rigix, Neosedil) may be used as they reduce itching during pregnancy. Dose of Rigix is 10mg once at night time.
Soothing baths and Emollients reduce itching. Avoid lotions containing calamine as it dries the skin and may exacerbate pruritus.
Peppermint oil and oil prepared from a plant called Rocket (Eruca sativa, Taramira in Urdu) are also used for pruritus in pregnancy as alternative medicine in Asia. These oils have anti-inflammatory properties and provide symptomatic relief [6,7].
Cholestyramine (4g orally thrice a day), a resin, reduces serum bile acid levels by absorbing bile from large gut. However, it should be avoided as it causes constipation and vitamin K deficiency which may happen to occur with pruritus gravidarum.
Elective delivery is recommended around 36-38 weeks in severe cases.


Prognosis of pruritus gravidarum is good. Pruritus subsides soon after delivery in days or weeks; however, it may occur in subsequent pregnancies. Use of hormonal contraceptives may prone the affectees to pruritus. So, estrogen-containing contraceptive pills are contraindicated in those women who suffered from PG. Jaundice and vitamin K deficiency puts the pregnant women at increased risk of intra- and postpartum hemorrhage. Other risks of pruritus gravidarum include preterm labour, meconium in the amniotic fluid, fetal distress and fetal demise.


  1. Peharda V, Gruber F, Kastelan M, Brajac I, Cabrijan L. Pruritus an important symptom of internal diseases. Dermatovenerologica 2000;9:108-11.
  2. Wong RC, Ellis CN. Physiologic skin changes in pregnancy. J Am Acad Dermatol 1984;10(6):929-40.
  3. Rook A, Wilkinson DS, Ebling FJ, editors. Textbook of dermatology. 3rd ed. Oxford, Engl: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1979. p.213.
  4. GP Notebook. Pruritus gravidarum. Available from: <> [accessed on 11 Sep 2014].
  5. Bergman H, Melamed N, Koren G. Pruritus in pregnancy. Can Fam Physician 2013;59(12): 1290-4.
  6. Amjadi MA, Mojab F, Kamranpour SB. The effect of peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of pruritus in pregnant women. Iran J Pharm Res 2012;11(4):1073-7.
  7. Padulosi S, Pignone D. Rocket: a Mediterranean crop for the world. IPGRI 1996; 1-101. Available from: <> [Accessed on 11 Sep 2014].


Dr. Zafar Iqbal Malghani
MBBS, FCPS (Medicine)
District Physician DHQ Layyah

Keywords: Pruritus in pregnancy, Pruritus gravidarum, Cause, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Ursodeoxycholic acid, Antihistamines, Emollients, Rocket oil, Peppermint oil

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