Ad for Chinese herbal medicine, Seattle 1908/ via Wikimedia Commons

Please pardon the relative quiet of this blog this week. All our in-house and far-flung occasional correspondents are otherwise engaged, it seems. Blame the nice weather, if it’s nice where you are. Our editor-in-chief, Shawn Kennedy, is in Pittsburgh at the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) convention. She’s presenting this afternoon (I think) on the new AJN iPad app, among other things (no, we don’t yet have one for the Kindle, but that may be on the way).

Shawn should have an update on her adventures with the next generation in nursing sometime early next week. So for now, almost entirely avoiding nursing news and health care reform, here are a few items of potential interest:

The Respectful Insolence blog, in reminding us that “natural” doesn’t always mean safer, points to an AFP article that highlights research drawing a connection between a widely used herbal remedy and the unusually high incidence of urinary tract cancer in Taiwan. Says the AFP article,

A toxic ingredient in a popular herbal remedy is linked to more than half of all cases of urinary tract cancer in Taiwan where use of traditional medicine is widespread, said a US study Monday.

Aristolochic acid (AA) is a potent human carcinogen that is found naturally in Aristolochia plants, an ingredient common in botanical Asian remedies for aiding weight loss, easing joint pain and improving stomach ailments.

While the FDA issued an alert about products containing this ingredient last fall, it’s important to recall that the multibillion dollar supplements industry in the U.S., whatever its benefits, is not subject to the same regulations applied to the pharmaceutical industry.

And, in honor of the weekend and the blossoming trees, here’s something of proven health benefit: walking. It’s free, there seem to be new studies out all the time telling us why it’s good for our minds and bodies, but many have noted that Americans don’t do it anymore, and that in some places in the U.S. it can be downright dangerous to do so. Slate has a new series, “The Crisis in American Walking,” that explores the many facets of this issue, from how we got to this place to what we can do about it. It’s well worth a look, though maybe you’d be better off just turning off your electronic device and hitting the streets, paths, hills, mallscape, wherever.

OK, one nursing item, from the news department in the April issue of AJN: we look at two studies that highlight ways that nurse-led teams are helping bring about improvements in risk management, adherence, and perceptions of care for patients with chronic disease.

Enjoy the weekend!—JM, senior editor, blog editor